The Colorado Preps Weekly series continues into 2022 and this report focuses on teams and players inside the San Luis Valley. The report is presented each week by Stone Farm Supply and State Farm Agent Torben Walters in Alamosa.
The season is about halfway through, meaning that numbers are becoming a bit more solid and the leaders across the state in numbers are starting to separate themselves.
In the San Luis Valley, Ben Parra is sitting at 15th in the state for all classifications in scoring for the Del Norte Tigers, averaging 23.1 points per game.
In non-scoring stats, Kaiden Smith of Sangre de Cristo is third in the state with 13.9 rebounds a night for the Thunderbirds, with Creede’s Ryder Whitehorn also grabbing 13.6 in fourth overall.
Whitehorn isn’t just showing off in rebounding, but is also fifth in the state in blocked shots, averaging 3.6 per game for the Miners. Down near the border of New Mexico, Antonito’s Jasiah Jiron has also been a force inside, with 2.6 blocks per game on the year placing him at 17th in the state.
On the defensive side of the ball, Center’s Abraham Echauri is swiping the ball at a clip of 5.9 steals per game, placing him at fourth overall in the category statewide. Sierra Grande standout Isiah Chairez is also showing off on that side of the ball, sitting in 19th with 4.4 steals per game for the Panthers. Baron Holman of Centauri is also just out of the top 20 in a crew of players averaging 4.3 steals.
The Centauri Falcons rolled on their way through North Fork this on Thursday before running into a physical game with the Delta Panthers Friday night. The undefeated Falcons improved to 7-0 with their 50-38 win over the new look Panthers, and are entering a tough stretch of games, with St. Mary’s, Sanford, and The Vanguard School on the schedule over the next two weeks.
Following the Falcons into Delta were the Mean Moose, who went into the long road trip with a 52-44 win over Salida to open the year on Tuesday. They would keep the offense rolling as they put up a 62-50 win over Delta to improve to 7-2 on the year. A four headed Moose is starting to develop in the valley, with Damian Orozco and Brant Jackson both averaging double digit scoring and Jayr Almeida and Donovan Ramirez both putting up 9.6 per game.
Out east of the SLV, Sierra Grande is also undefeated at 7-0. No score was reported for their opening game this weekend with Lake City, so the Panthers will have to wait for Thursday this week when they host Trinidad before entering league play on Friday and Saturday with road trips to Moffat and Creede.
The Creede Miners are probably one of the early surprises of the year sitting at 5-3 (2-0) after their 41-33 win over Moffat on Friday night. Ryder Whitehorn, as mentioned above has been a force down low, but the Miners are also getting great help from senior Stone Thompson’s 11.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and senior John Twite who is adding eight points per game.
Sanford has not had the start to 2022 they were hoping for after finishing the first half of the year at 4-1. Back to back losses to Pagosa Springs (47-31) and fellow 2A threat Mancos (55-51) have the Indians looking for a rebound. They head south of the boarder this week to open up play against Escalante (NM) where the Lobos are 9-4 on the year.
The Centennial Rams are off to a 1-0 start in league play after taking down Antonito to open January’s slate. Overall, their 3-3 record is a far cry from last years 0-7, and has the Rams looking for their first winning season since 2015-16 when they went 8-7. Three non-league games this week with Custer County, Questa (NM), and Springfield should give a better idea of the direction they are heading before a deeper dive into Southern Peaks play.
La Veta got off to a 50/50 start in the new year. A thrilling 59-56 win over Manzanola on the road was paired with a loss on Saturday to Cheraw that snapped a four game winning streak for the Redhawks. They will face a tough test this week when they host Kim/Branson on Thursday.
Monte Vista got off to a slow start in their opening game of the new year, falling to Gunnison 39-26. The Cowboys got off to a 13-3 run in the first quarter and never looked back. At 2-5 now, the Pirates are still looking for someone to become a consistent second scoring threat to help Memphis Garcia who is averaging 12.2 points a game and leads the team in assists with 2.2 a game.
The Center Vikings will be entering league action this week when they travel to Del Norte for a game with the Tigers. The Vikings are hoping to snap a run that has seen them drop three of their last four, including a tough 69-49 loss to open the year on Saturday at Peyton. Meanwhile, the Tigers are going to enter the game at 5-3 and riding a three game winning streak after they took down Sangre de Cristo 71-30 on Saturday night.
One player is blowing away the state when it comes to rebounding this season, and she resides in one of the smallest schools in the state. Shiinei Tallman is pulling down 21.8 rebounds per game for the Antonito Trojans, and is four rebounds per game ahead of the next closest across all categories. The senior is also blocking three shots a game on average placing her in the top 15 across the state.
Not to be outdone in blocks, Moffat’s Yessenia Vera is giving the Cowboys a bit of recognition statewide with four blocks per game through eight games this season.
Another standout from the valley also resides on the defensive side, with Ashley Mortenson swiping 6.9 steals per game for the Sangre de Cristo Thunderbirds, placing the senior fourth in the state across all classes. Alexis Varela of Center also has cracked the top ten averaging 6.4 steals a game on the other side of the valley.
In scoring, you have to dig a bit to find leaders from the valley, but in 2A, Varela of the Center Vikings in the first name you will find from the SLV, putting her in 19th in the classification with 14.1 points per game. Also, you will find Asia Caldon from Sanford in the same spot, averaging exactly 14 points per game.
No girls from 3A are in the top 20 for the class in scoring, but if you drop to 1A, a familiar face once again appears, as Shiinei Tallman is also averaging 15.5 points per game for the Trojans. Paige Hammel of Moffat is showing the threat she could be in the future as well, averaging 14.6 as a freshman to place her in 12th overall in the class.
The Alamosa Mean Moose pulled down a convincing win against Salida on Tuesday to open the year, but against a top ten team in the Delta Panthers, the Moose couldn’t keep them off of the line, allowing 49 free throws to the Panthers in their 55-44 loss on the road. At 4-5, the Mean Moose now direct their attention to league play Friday when they have a big matchup with Pagosa Springs as their only game this week.
Centauri (4-3) was also on the road at Delta opening their January portion of the schedule, and had foul issues themselves in their 60-28 loss to the Panthers. They were able to turn things around just one day later against Pueblo East earning a equally lopsided 53-26 win over the Eagles. League play with Montezuma Cortez and then a home game with St. Mary’s this week should have the Falcons looking forward to the weekends games.
The Sanford girls are hoping their 53-34 win over Mancos can start another winning streak after closing out December with their only loss on the year. Cheyenne and Asia Caldon have both been huge for Sanford, leading the girls with a combined 15 points and nine rebounds per game. They also lead the Indians in assists with a total of five between them.
This weekend will see Sanford traveling to Sangre de Cristo who also has just one loss on the year after improving to 8-1 after wins against Primero, Cotopaxi, and Del Norte to get the 2022 portion of the season going. Ashley Mortenson has been the heartbeat of the team as a senior, leading them in rebounds and steals, but Peyton Metz has been equally as important, leading the team in scoring as a junior with 11.2 points per game. Also impressive this year has been Tymberlynn Rodgers who leads them in assists with 3.3 per game.
The Monte Vista Pirates have rolled off five straight wins after starting the season 0-2, and have won convincingly in their last three going back to wins against Steamboat Springs and Telluride in December and an opening drubbing of Gunnison over the weekend on Friday night. This all despite no girls scoring more than 7.7 points per game on the team, being led in that category by senior Haley Bernal. The Pirates have a week of non-league action heading their way this week with good games against Sargent, Bayfield to test them.
Speaking of Sargent, the young Farmers are 4-2 on the year after taking down Swink 52-40 over the weekend. With Bayfield, Monte Vista and La Veta on the slate, the Farmers are hoping to at least go 2-1 on the week for momentum into a tough game with Sierra Grande on January 20th. Gabby Jones is leading the team in points and steals while Mary Willis has been grabbing over eight rebounds a game to go with her ten points.
Another surprise from the valley this year has been the Centennial girls who are continuing to impress after improving to 6-1 on the season and improving their winning streak to six games as well. You have to go back to 2013-14 for another Rams team to finish above 500, but wins over Lake City and Antonito to open the year have the Rams feeling like that streak should end this season.
At 3-3, the Moffat Cowboys have yet to play a game in the new year, but will change that this weekend with a pair of winnable contests. Sierra Grande and Lake City get the Cowboys rolling in Southern Peaks League action after a long layoff.
Sierra Grande will be entering their game at 2-4 after having no score reported for their opening game of 2022 against Lake City from the weekend. Mariana Loya has been impressive for the Panthers this year averaging 12.7 points per game, but she hasn’t received much help, with no one else on the roster averaging more than four points a game.
It looked like on Friday, the La Veta Redhawks got their offense figured out against Manzanola, putting up over 70 points for the only time this year, but they were brought back to earth after only putting up 15 in a loss to Cheraw on Saturday. La Veta has been held to under 20 points in five of their nine games this season, but has put up over 35 points in all four of their other games. Consistency and rhythm will be big for La Veta moving on, and looking for a more consistent scoring from their leaders Tami Morgan and Aspen Audry.
The Alamosa Mean Moose hosted the annual Gary Ramstetter Classic over the weekend, and took second behind 2A Cedaredge in the dual invitational. The Moose fell to Cedaredge in the opening dual of the tournament, but bounced back to defeat Rocky Ford, Palmer Ridge, John Mall and Pueblo West in consecutive fashion. Trevor Maestas only dropped one match on the day for the Moose at 132, and Dempsey Gibbs went 5-0 at 113. Dante Gonzalez also wrestled well, going 3-1 in actual matches with his only loss to Collin Koonse of Pueblo West at 152.
Centauri sent their varsity to the Rocky Mountain Invitational in Pagosa Springs over the weekend and edged out Bloomfield (NM) by three points to take home the team title with 186. Sophomore Riley Valdez placed third at 113 and improved to 14-7. It was a battle of SLV seniors for the title at 120, where Malachi Gallegos of Del Norte, the Tigers only wrestler at the meet, defeated Centauri’s Mario Vigil in a 4-3 decision.
At 126, Centauri’s Diego Hernandez took fourth place, falling to Damian Lopez of Monte Vista in an 8-3 decision. Parker Buhr also took on a Monte Vista Pirate in Jeremiah Baumgardner and won a 4-2 decision to take 5th at 135. Ivan Lopez took fifth at 145 and at 152, Eyan Chavez took home the title for the Falcons as the senior improved to 21-2 on the year. At 160, Josh Polkowske took home third as a sophomore.
The upper weights for the Falcons really were the ones that cleaned house towards the end, with Zach Buhr taking home a title at 182 with a pin over Center’s Jesus Valadez. At 195, Byron Shawcroft fell to undefeated Wil Aucoin to take second for the Falcons and at 220, Skylar Montague placed third with a pin over Monte Vista’s Matthew Wright.
As you can read from above, it wasn’t just Centauri at the tournament, but plenty of SLV teams made the trip to Pagosa for the day. The Center Vikings continue to impress this year as they took fifth out of 15 teams, and Monte Vista would take ninth as a team, with Del Norte wrapping up the local schools with a 12th place finish paced by their lone champion.
The Vikings actually ended up with the same amount of individual champions as the Falcons at the meet, led by 106 pound Jordan Duran who won a thrilling 12-11 decision over Durango’s Ryan Dugan for the title. Omar Hernandez brought home the title as well at 220, and the Vikings added a pair of runner up finishes from the aforementioned Jesus Valadez at 182 and Aaron Valadez at 145 who fell to Kirtland (NM)’s Matthew Hawkins.
The Monte Vista Pirates had seven wrestlers finish in fifth place or better, led by a pair of third place finishers in Damian Lopez at 126 and Deangleo Archuleta at 138. Kevin Cisneros (132), Jacob Pacheco (145), and Matthew Wright (220) all took fourth and Ethan Wolf and Nathaniel Juarez did well to place fifth at 113 and 120 respectively.
Sargent and Sierra Grande were both in Gunnison over the weekend, and the Farmers put on a good show to take 10th out of a field of 16 teams. Trenton Lovelace moved to 15-0 on the year after taking the title at 220. On the other end of the weights, at 113, Matthew Voss took fifth with a win in the medal match over Mountain Valley’s Damien Ross.
For Sierra Grande, CJ Nix continued his strong season by taking second at 182, going 4-1 on the day to improve to 12-3 on the season.