The list of important games in girls’ basketball tonight is a long one as a dozen contests grabbed our attention. Each matchup on our list is important to either league or RPI standings and in some cases, the outcome impacts both.
1A: Idalia at Arickaree/Woodlin
With both teams unbeaten in YWKC play, it’s a simple head-to-head matchup to determine the overall league champion. Regardless of the result, neither team will be able to catch Haxtun in the RPI standings so the winner will not be the number one seed in the district bracket.
The two rivals met in a non-conference game on January 25th with Arickaree/Woodlin picking up a 35-29 win. They actually trailed by nine points at halftime (20-11) but outscored the Wolves 24-9 over the final two quarters to gain the win.
Micah Koolstra (13.4) was right on her average as she totaled 13 points in the win. The senior has been on a hot streak of late with 20 points against Briggsdale and 24 against Cheyenne Wells last week; but both games ended up as losses for the Indian Mustangs.
Idalia did not have a double-figure scorer in game one but freshman Camren Morris tallied nine points and senior Breann Shaffer added eight. They combined for 8 of 24 from the field and together pulled down 16 rebounds.
2A: Rocky Ford at Rye
Rye has already clinched the Western division side of the Santa Fe league but Rocky Ford is in a tight battle with Holly for second place in the East. Rocky Ford and Holly split their two games in conference play with the Meloneers gaining a win last week to earn a one game edge in the standings. Since Holly is expected to get by Las Animas this week, Rocky Ford must upset the Thunderbolts on the road to earn the position outright.
If the two teams end up in a tie for second, then head-to-head is the first tiebreaker. As mentioned, the clubs split two matchups so the second tiebreaker is RPI and that too is a very close race. Holly is 18th and Rocky Ford 19th going into the game and they’re separated by just .001 in points. Rocky Ford will get a boost in strength of schedule by playing Rye while the opposite will happen to Holly against Las Animas. So, it’s not inconceivable that Rocky Ford can lose and Holly win tonight, but the Meloneers could overtake the Wildcats in the RPI standings.
If Rocky Ford ends up second, tonight’s game could also serve as a preview of a district semifinal as the cross bracketing of divisions would put both teams in the same half of the district pairings.
2A: Denver Christian at Dawson
2A: Longmont Christian at Highland
We group these games together as they will help close out the top five order in the Mile-High conference. Heritage Christian (10-0) leads the race and can nail down the championship by beating Nederland tonight. Dawson (9-1) is currently second but their lead over Longmont Christian and Highland is just one game and the edge over Denver Christian is just two.
Win or lose tonight, Dawson is in good position to end up second as they’ve beaten both Longmont Christian and Highland. That means with a loss tonight, Dawson still lands the #2 spot by beating Twin Peaks Charter on Thursday.
With Dawson expected to land at least one win this week, that leaves third place to the winner of Longmont Christian-Highland. If Highland comes up short, then their game with Lyons (7-4) also becomes important for fourth.
Some players to watch tonight include Dawson’s Kaitlyn Day (16.9) who scored 31 points in a recent win over Highland. She’s reached double figures in all but two games this season. Kara Amidon (14.5) tops Denver Christian on offense. She had scored double figures in 14 straight games; a streak that ended last week when she was limited to just nine points in a loss to Highland.
The Huskies feature two double-digit scorers in Lauren Woods (14.2) and Olivia Himmel (10.0). Himmel also pulls down 10 rebounds a game. Longmont Christian counters with the tandem of Whitney Echols (18.2) and Taylor Vandenburg (12.9).
3A: Skyview Academy at Colorado Academy
This game will help sort out the top four spots in the Metro standings. Skyview Academy picked up a win over Machebeuf on Monday night and improved to 8-1 in league play. They’re tied with Lutheran (9-1) for the top spot but lost their battle with the Lions. That means Lutheran is the league champ if they beat Manual on Wednesday. Skyview Academy can clinch second place with a win this evening.
Colorado Academy tied with Faith Christian (both 8-2) in third place. A win tonight sets up a three-way tie with Skyview Academy provided Faith Christian also beats Kent Denver. Skyview Academy also has a league game with St Mary’s Academy but they’re heavily favored there.
In case RPI is needed to break a three-way logjam, Skyview Academy is in great shape as they sit 12th overall compered to Faith Christian (#22) and Colorado Academy (#23).
3A: Platte Valley at Brush
Platte Valley has already clinched second Eaton in the Patriot chase so this game may matter more to Brush. The ‘Diggers are 6-3 and tied with Resurrection Christian for third place. The Cougars meet Estes Park tonight and if Rez wins that game, Brush cannot finish higher than fourth because of head-to-head results.
If Brush comes up short tonight, they tumble into a wild mix with Sterling (6-4), University and Liberty Common (5-4) in the race for fourth. Sterling has wrapped up league play; Liberty Common goes to Eaton and University has a date with Valley.
Based on conference standings, there’s a good chance that Brush, Sterling and University will end up tied as Eaton is expected to beat Liberty Common. Since head-to-head results won’t break the three-way tie, then RPI may come into play. University is 19th and has the advantage there. Brush is 31st and Sterling 33rd.
4A: Pueblo West at Pueblo South
Round two of the 4A heavyweights to decide the South-Central championship and top seeds in the state tournament bracket. West won the first meeting 34-29 and now sits second in RPI points with South three spots lower at number five. The Colts are trying to overtake either Evergreen or Holy Family to earn one of the top four seeds in the state bracket. The Cougars and Tigers meet tomorrow in another important RPI contest.
We expect more points in the rematch. West averages 57 points per game in conference play and South 55. Hannah Simental topped West with 18 points but no one else had more than five. Gabi Lucero netted 15 to lead South and only four players overall got into the scoring column.
4A: Glenwood Springs at Battle Mountain
Glenwood Springs can clinch the Western Slope championship with a win but a Battle Mountain victory leaves the Demons and Huskies tied for the conference lead. Battle Mountain also takes control of the title chase with a win as they also beat Glenwood Springs 55-44 in earlier contest. A Glenwood loss also sets up a very important game with third place Palisade (7-3) on Friday.
Glenwood Springs made just 14 field goals in the first meeting but 11 were from beyond the arc. Emily Worline (12.9) had a career night with nine treys on her way to a game high 27 points. Ximena Gutierrez (9.9) added two treys but the rest of the Demons roster was just two of 31 from the field overall.
Battle Mountain picked up 16 points from Gabriela Caballero and 15 from Claire Krueger. Caballero also connected on four treys.
4A: Berthoud at Windsor
Berthoud opens the week one game back of Windsor and Holy Family in the Tri Valley chase but since they still have games remaining with both, they’re still in the league championship discussion. That changes with a loss tonight as that scenario leaves them with a third-place finish.
Windsor, which moves to Class 5A for the post-season, held off Berthoud 48-43 in their first battle. Hollie Hoffman dropped in 22 points and Karly Mathern added 11. Berthoud picked up 15 from Breanna Fowler and 10 from Sydney Leeper. Neither team shot well from the arc as Windsor hit 4 of 20 attempts and Berthoud 5 of 27. Windsor outrebounded the Spartans 55-35.
4A: Sand Creek at Palmer Ridge
Top ranked Air Academy (12-0) has already wrapped up the Pikes Peak title but these two are battling with Discovery Canyon for the runner-up spot. All three clubs enter the game at 8-4 and this is the first of two matchups of the three teams involved. Palmer Ridge also goes to Discovery Canyon on Thursday.
Sand Creek won the first game 72-54 and split two games with Discovery Canyon. Palmer Ridge beat Discovery Canyon 60-36 in the first meeting.
5A: Regis at Highlands Ranch
The second of two very important games on the 5A schedule this week involving teams in the top five of RPI. On Monday night, Cherry Creek picked up a win over Grandview and moved to fourth in the RPI standings with Grandview sliding to fifth. Tonight, it’s the top two teams in the standings going head-to-head with the winner likely nabbing the top overall state tournament seed. The survivor also gets the Continental league championship as well.
Neither team has lost an in-state game. The lone setback for Highlands Ranch (20-1) came against a California opponent at the Nike Tournament of Champions in December. Regis has two losses (19-2) with both coming at a tournament in New York soon after the Christmas break. Their best in-state win came against Grandview (79-55) in mid-December.
The Raiders are led in scoring by Fran Belibi (22.8) and Avery Van Sickle (12.4). Belibi also paces the club with over 12 rebounds and nearly four steals per game. Highlands Ranch features three double digit scorers in Kasey Neubert (17.0), Jamie Bain (13.8) and Autumn Watts (10.5). Neubert adds a team best 10.7 boards per game.
The contest will be produced as a national broadcast through the NFHS Network and can be found on Facebook Live.
5A/4A: Montrose at Grand Junction
Over the past five to ten years, the Southwestern League chase has typically been decided by the two conference games between Montrose and Fruita Monument. Both those clubs are 4-2 and have a piece of first place but Grand Junction, also 4-2, has made it a three-team battle this year. Montrose also plays Fruita Monument later this week so the Indians do control their own championship hopes.
Game one between the two was extremely low scoring as Montrose escaped for a 27-24 decision. The Indians were held scoreless in the first quarter but then totaled 15 during the third quarter. That gave them enough advantage for the win. The Indians were 8-34 from the field and hit just two three-point shots. Grand Junction was just 8 of 33 in shooting and misfired on all eight three-point tries. Montrose junior Kennadie Minerich, with 14 points, was the only player for either team to reach double figures.
Grand Junction has split two games with Fruita Monument and a win tonight likely gives them a share of the league title. They are the outright champs with a win this evening and against Durango on Friday if Montrose also beats Fruita Monument later in the week.