Top 10 battles can be found across the board in girls’ basketball this weekend. Some take place in conference play with outcomes helping determine eventual league champions. Others, including a battle of defending state champions from Classes 4A and 5A, will play a large role in how state tournament brackets are seeded. We look at those games and other important contests in our weekend preview.
Photo by OT SportsCheck
Fleming faces two more Top 10 opponents
After taking out both Merino and Kit Carson last week, #2 Fleming (1A) has two more ranked opponents on the schedule as they face both #6 Lone Star on Thursday and #7 Stratton on Saturday. Both games could serve as regional tournament previews as all three teams expect to reach the regional round.
Madi Serrato provided a big boost offensively for Fleming in the two wins last week. The sophomore tossed in a career best 24 points in the win over Merino and then added another dozen as the Wildcats held off Kit Carson. If she can become a third consistent scorer behind Whitney Chintala and Kally Kirkwood, the Wildcats are a legitimate contender for a state championship. Chintala dropped in 21 against Kit Carson last week.
For Lone Star and Stratton, they have a chance to take the next step as a program by scoring a major win. Lone Star is led in scoring by Alivia Weathers (16.9) but they’ve been paced of late by the outside shooting of Aleighcea Kuntz. She buried seven three-pointers in a 51-31 win over Idalia last week and followed up with four more in a blowout of Front Range Baptist.
Stratton (4-1) has played just five games but the schedule picks up rather soon. They have five games against Kit Carson, Genoa Hugo, Bethune, Burlington and Flagler over an eight day period later this month. A win over Fleming could give the Eagles momentum and a confidence boost entering that brutal stretch.
2A Western Slope champion could be determined on Friday
Soroco is ranked 6th in Class 2A and Cedaredge 7th and those two clubs collide in Routt County on Friday. Should be a great game and even though it’s very early in a very long conference schedule, the winner becomes the favorite to land the league championship. Regardless of outcome, the clubs could both end up with top district tournament seeds. Soroco remains in district five and will compete with most of their league for the top spot in districts. Cedaredge heads south this year and joins the San Juan league for the district round and will likely contend with Ignacio for that top seed.
Friday’s game could be determined on how well Soroco handles the Cedaredge full court pressure and if the Rams can knock down three-pointers consistently. The Bruins get a ton of points off full-court pressure and if they can’t get points off turnovers, sometimes the offense struggles in the half court game. Soroco also has 30 three-pointers on 134 attempts in nine games. Cedaredge has shot only 62 treys and made ten this season.
Individually, Soroco has three double digit scorers in Kaydence Bruner (14.0), Eden Mayer (10.5) and Peyton Parker (10.3). Bruner adds nearly five steals per game while Mayer and Parker combine for over 17 rebounds. The Cedaredge offense is led by Megan Jenkins with 11.3 points and she also tops the Bruins with nearly eight rebounds per game.
Both teams are unbeaten in league play and both collected two conference wins last week. The Bruins beat Hayden (36-24) and Plateau Valley (49-27) and the Rams easily got past Olathe (52-20) and DeBeque (67-19). Both teams feature seniors as their top four scorers so both programs realize this is the year to make a run to the state tournament.
A second top 10 matchup in 2A found in the Lower Platte
#9 Wray heads to #5 Holyoke on Friday in one of many high level matchups in the Lower Platte this year. They are just two of five conference teams that are ranked in either 1A or 2A this week so the winner is not even assured of a top three league finish.
It’s already the second meeting between the two as they met for a non-league game in December. Holyoke scored a 58-40 win in that matchup; jumping to a 21-8 first quarter lead to gain the early advantage. Kristin Vieselmeyer scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the winners. Holyoke also got nice efforts from Elyce and Audrey Talavera. They each scored 12 points with Elyce also snaring a dozen rebounds. Lauren Herman led the Dragons with 13 rebounds and also chipped in eight points.
Wray shot just 18 of 85 from the field in the loss and Karly Godsey was the only Eagle to score in double figures (15). The senior also paced Wray to a solid 66-64 win over Burlington on Tuesday night; scoring 17 points to lead four in double figures. Larissa Salmans added 13, Kylin Hillman 12 and Sydnee Cheek 10. The defense also recorded 15 steals and will seek better defense in the rematch with Holyoke this week.
Sedgwick County, Yuma and Merino (1A) are the three other league teams ranked this week. All three have road conference games on Friday as Sedgwick County visits Haxtun, Yuma goes to Akron and Merino heads to Caliche.
Eaton seeks a 10th straight win to open the season
The Reds are ranked fourth in Class 3A but are only the third highest ranked team from the Patriot conference. Defending state champion Platte Valley remains atop the rankings this week with University second. Those three teams expect to battle for the conference championship and possibly the top overall playoff seed throughout the season. But before those highly anticipated matchups take place, the three must take care of business against several other quality conference opponents.
Eaton has one of those meetings this Friday as they host a Resurrection Christian that has won eight of their first 10 games. They’ve also spent time in the rankings this year but are not included in the top 10 this week. The Cougars won their conference opener with ease; rolling Frontier Academy 41-15 this week.
Sophomore Mackenzie Flikkema led the Cougars with 15 points while senior Taylor Wright added 13 rebounds. Resurrection Christian is very young with Wright just one of three seniors on the varsity roster. All others are either freshman or sophomores.
Eaton has outscored opponents 521-317 this year and has had just two games decided by single digits (Highland & Yuma). They won their league opener over Valley (55-32) as nine players got into the scoring column. Ahana Leffler led the list with 16 and Tayla Weideman added 10. The Reds also won the rebound battle (24-17) with Emily Maske grabbing six.
Looking down the road, Eaton meets University on February 1st and Platte Valley on the 8th. Platte Valley returns to league action at Brush next Tuesday while University meets Sterling on Friday.
Top 10 pairing in the 4A Longs Peak
Four of the ten teams in the 4A Longs Peak conference enter the weekend with 2-0 records and two of them collide on Friday as #9 Berthoud (10-1) visits #7 Thompson Valley (9-1). They enter the game tied with Roosevelt and Severance for the early conference lead. Both the Spartans and Eagles have games remaining with Roosevelt and Severance but Friday’s winner will be considered the team to beat.
Berthoud moved past Frederick on Tuesday 54-33. Even though they won by 21 points, the Spartans led just 22-20 at halftime but took control with a 22-4 run over the third quarter. Ally Padilla netted 22 in the victory and also led the Spartans with 24 in their first conference win over Riverdale Ridge last week.
Thompson Valley also has a win over Frederick (58-51) from last week but their more impressive victory came against Northridge (66-50) earlier this week. Becca Wiersema dropped in 15 points while Amelia Solt and Cammy Wiersema added 10 apiece. Charlie Durtsche collected 11 rebounds.
Both clubs have challenges with Roosevelt coming up later this week as the Eagles face the Riders on the 25th and the Spartans three days later on the 28th. Berthoud also hosts Northridge next Wednesday so each team still has work to do even with a win on Friday.
Good 4A pairing on the Western Slope
Grand Junction Central is 9-1 and back in the 4A rankings this week at number ten. They’ve won six straight since a 55-28 loss to Ponderosa and look to chalk up another quality win when they visit Glenwood Springs on Friday. The Demons are only 6-5 but they’ve faced a very strong schedule including losses to Green Mountain and Berthoud from 4A and Vista Peak, Chatfield and Fruita Monument from 5A.
Central will use the game to prep for the SWL chase where they’re expected to battle with Montrose and Fruita Monument for the top spot. It’s a young Warriors team as the top four scorers are all underclassmen. Sophomores Krystyna Manzanarez (11.0) and Brynn Wagner (10.1) in fact are the leading scorers.
Glenwood Springs also has some youth in key spots with freshman Anastasia Shea the top rebounder (7.3). The six-footer is also second in scoring at six points per game. Joslyn Spires tops the offense with 9.8 per game.
5A Centennial chase features first meeting of Cherry Creek and Grandview
Going to again be a very fun and exciting league chase inside the 5A Centennial. Grandview is ranked second in Class 5A with Cherry Creek sixth and they’re joined by 4th ranked Arapahoe and number one Mullen (4A) in the title quest. Each team plays the other home and away so it’s likely the league champion ends up with two or even three losses.
Both Grandview and Cherry Creek have a conference loss already and each fell by the identical score of 56-48; the Wolves to Mullen and the Bruins to Arapahoe. Cherry Creek balanced that tough loss by beating Mullen 43-34 two days later. The freshman duo of Tianna Chambers and A’Neya Chambers combined for 27 points against Mullen and totaled the same amount in the loss to Arapahoe.
Grandview is 3-7 overall but 2-1 here in Colorado. The loss to Mullen was a tough one but they may have finally turned the corner by taking out top ranked Valor Christian 59-52 last Saturday. Lauren Betts has been consistent throughout the season. She had 17 points and five rebounds against Mullen, went for 17 and 8 against Cherokee Trail and recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Valor Christian. Three others reached double figures in that win; Autorriah Thomas had 16, Marya Hudgins 13 and Amaya Charles 12.
Arapahoe has just one league game this week and that’s at Cherokee Trail on Saturday. They have the quality win over Cherry Creek and are scheduled to meet Grandview on the 21st and Mullen on the 27th. Round two of league play begins on the 29th with the rematch against Cherry Creek.
Defending champions collide on Friday
And to make the game even more fun, Valor Christian and Mullen enter the showdown ranked first in their respective class. Both clubs are 8-3 on the season and both are coming off tough losses over the past week. The Mustangs fell to Cherry Creek last Friday and this will be their first game since. Valor Christian lost to Grandview 59-52 last Saturday but climbed back into the win column with a high quality 78-68 win over Regis on Wednesday.
Mariah Hilliard and Raegan Beers each scored 19 for Valor with Macey Huard adding 18 and Quinn Vansickle 16. It was the second straight strong showing from Vansickle as the freshman also led the way with 17 in the loss to Grandview. Huard netted 13 and Bears a dozen. The Eagles though were outrebounded 35-14 against Grandview and hit just 7 of 13 free throws.
Mullen’s Gracie Gallegos buried four three points and closed with 21 points in the win over Grandview. The Mustangs hit 12 of 16 free throws and outrebounded the bigger Wolvers 28-26. Imani Perez and Kilha Freelon each pulled down 10.
This is just the second meeting between the two powerful programs and none of the current players were involved in the first. It took place in 2016 with Valor Christian collecting a 61-58 decision in the Class 4a state quarterfinals.