3A METRO LEAGUE GIRLS’ BASKETBALL REPORT
I am honored to have Doug Wright help me out with the Metro League! He has written reports on the Metro for me now for 2 or 3 years and I am glad to have his help yet again. If you are at all interested in giving insight or writing up some predictions feel free to email me and we can talk.
By Doug Wright
As we move into the new year, Colorado high school basketball league play begins shortly. Here’s a look at the 3A Metro League girls’ teams, and our projected order of their finish in the league, based primarily on their December 2021 non-league performance. Overall, we do not expect the Metro League to produce State championship contenders this season, which is rare because this is a typically very strong league. We do expect a deeper contingent of teams—as many as the team ranked 7th–will be competitive with each other. There could be some surprises this year—particularly if, as we have seen so far this season, COVID continues to cause key players to miss games. We’ll have a better sense of how these teams stack up later in January.
#1 Lutheran (3-4) faced a typically strong series of Class 5A and 4A opponents in December, and it is difficult to gauge how the team will fare against 3A Metro League opponents. However, the Lions are coming off a 15-2 2021 campaign (a perfect and commanding 10-0 in the Metro League) and a loss in the State championship game. They therefore have the pedigree and experience to again dominate the Metro League despite the loss of three-time All State guard Stephanie Schultz. Typically a high scoring team, Lutheran has struggled to score in the early season, averaging only 41 points per game; the Lions are led by junior Raelyn Kelty and senior Valentina Clerica, neither of whom averages more than 10 points per game. They’ve also missed leading rebounder senior Brindelyn Schneider the past four games. Josh Schneider replaces long-time stalwart Mark Duitsman at the helm of the Lions. With initial league games against Kent Denver and Colorado Academy, we’ll soon see whether this is another preeminent squad or if this is the year that Lutheran falls back into the pack in the league and State competition.
#2 Skyview Academy (6-1) is coming off a difficult 2021 season where it finished in the second division of the Metro League at 3-7 after several previously strong seasons. Based on solid early season results, including a recent 55-44 win over a typically strong Brush Beetdigger squad, it looks like the Hawks have the potential to again challenge the top echelon of Metro League teams. Building on their experience as two year starters are juniors Alivia Sanchez and Ekko Hopkins, who average 13 and 11 PPG, respectively. With a remaining veteran cast comprised of juniors and seniors, we expect that Skyview Academy will rebound strongly in 2022.
#3 Colorado Academy (6-2) is off to a strong start through its non-league schedule, beginning with a surprising season-opening win over perennial Class 3A state power St. Mary’s, against which they lost in an early State Championship round last March. Its only losses have been to Class 4A powers Mead (8-1) and D’Evelyn (9-1). The athletic but young Mustangs are led by versatile sophomore Alex May, who averages 10.8 PPG and 9.3 RPG along with 5.9 steals per game. Additional scoring punch is provided by senior Sabrina Wachuta and sophomore Naomi Wolff. Coach Reggie Morton’s squad is poised for a solid year in the Metro League this year and could challenge for the title if the youthful players jell with experience through league play. However, we expect this team may need one more year under its belt before it does so.
#4 Prospect Ridge Academy (6-2) picked up some solid wins in non-league play, including a road victory at Sterling. Six foot senior Elizabeth Rooks provides a strong inside presence, averaging 16.9 PPG and a league leading 11.6 RPG. Her running mates, senior Jocelyn Korbe and junior Zoe Webster, provide a solid court presence and leadership for the Miners. Turnovers (currently 23 per game) could be a problem for Prospect Ridge as they enter league play. If the Miners under coach Ellie Kempf can play cleaner basketball, they figure to challenge all of their Metro League opponents in 2022.
#5 Peak to Peak (6-2) is coming off a strong 2021 campaign, where it posted an 8-2 Metro League record. Their only two losses this season have come to Class 4A opponents. Adding to the Pumas’ potential for success this season is 6’4” freshman Alex Eschmeyer, who presents an intriguing matchup challenge for opponents. She leads the Pumas in scoring (16.9 PPG), rebounding (11.1 RPG) and blocked shots (3.4 per game), demonstrating a potential to dominate any opposing team. Her teammate, sophomore Annasofia Foster, also averages a double-double. If Peak to Peak’s young players can sustain their early season success through a grueling Metro League season, look for the Pumas to beat this pre-season ranking and challenge the top four for league supremacy.
#6 Kent Denver (3-4) has struggled in the early going versus some strong competition, including losses to University, The Academy and Eaton. Kent has lacked scoring depth to complement senior four year starter and all-league player Amanda Licht (14.4 PPG). Fellow senior Kaci Karl has demonstrated strength on the boards, averaging 11.4 rebounds per game. Besides those two veterans, who helped Kent Denver to a fine 8-1 league record in 2021, the Sun Devils are a pretty young team. This may account for their average of over 21 turnovers per game, an unusually high number under long-time coach Richard Judd. Kent will need to clean those up and get some supporting scoring in order to make strides during league play. Initial league games with Lutheran and Peak to Peak will show us how the Sun Devils stack up.
#7 Jefferson Academy (3-4) has had a mixed December non-league schedule, with a couple losses to a solid Resurrection Christian team and a one point loss to 8-2 Grand Valley. Senior Jordan Neely leads the Jaguars and the Metro League with an 18.4 PPG average, followed by junior Helen Stegner’s 10.6 PPG and 8 rebounds per game. Coach Mark Sharpley has a lot of experience through years of coaching the JA boys’ team, and we expect the Jaguars to be solid defensively. An easy early season Metro League schedule should be useful to freshman Elsa Nygren, who could be a third scoring option for the team. We look for the Jaguars to rebound from their disappointing 3-6 2021 Metro League campaign.
#8 St. Mary’s Academy (5-2) is off to a fine start in this young season. Its five wins eclipse the team’s win totals for the past three years combined! A mixture of veterans and newcomers have provided a spark for this program, again under the tutelage of coach Justin Gallegos. Junior Maria Stefanodoukis has stepped up her game to average 12.4 PPG and 5 RPG. Freshman Hazel Mills is the second leading scorer and leading rebounder on the team with 7.0 PPG and 5.6 RPG, respectively. We look for St. Mary’s Academy to be more competitive but still outside the pack of league contenders at season’s end.
#9 Faith Christian (1-6) has struggled mightily to score points during its non-league schedule, averaging less than 20 points per contest. An average of 25 turnovers per game certainly has contributed to that result. Leading scorer senior Emily Thielen averages only 7 PPG. Absent some improvement on the offensive end of the floor, the Eagles and coach Dominic Vigil could be in for a rare long season in the challenging Metro League.
#10 Bishop Machebeuf (0-6) lost a host of seniors from last year’s solid campaign and has struggled mightily thus far this season. Senior Karla Muratalla (18.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 5 steals per game) is doing her part as the sole returnee, but it appears that she doesn’t have much help. No other player on the Buffaloes squad averages more than 4 points per game. That, coupled with an average of 22 turnovers per game, leads us to believe that, although the Buffaloes will not remain winless, it will be tough sledding for Bishop Machebeuf in the Metro League in 2022.
#11 Manual (2-5) suffered from a miserable 2021 Metro League season, finishing 0-10 and in last place. While we don’t see the Thunderbolts repeating that ignominious result under new coach John Collins, the Metro League gauntlet may continue to be a struggle for Manual. Senior Kyntessa Roybal leads the ‘Bolts in scoring (10.4 PPG) and rebounding (7 per game), but it doesn’t appear that a young supporting cast is providing much assistance. While we expect Manual to achieve a win or two in the Metro League to avoid the league basement, that should be about all they achieve this season.
#12 Stargate School (1-5) continues to struggle. Now on their third coach in three years, the Eagles squad has been challenged offensively. Their highest point total of the season is 26, and more often than not their turnovers (25 per game) exceed their point total. Not a good recipe for success, and therefore we believe Stargate will likely end up at the bottom of the Metro League standings this year.