CLASS 1A BOYS BASKETBALL WEEKLY PREVIEW
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
The final three weeks of regular season play are upon us and district tournaments will be here before we know it. Plenty of jockeying for postseason positioning will take place down the stretch, and there is no shortage of key games this week. All rankings are according to the most recent release of the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index.
Top-ranked Belleview Christian (1st) continues to roll along, outscoring opponents by almost 500 points on the season. The Bruins broke triple digits for the second time this season, blasting Beth Eden Baptist (45th) 101-22 last Thursday, with Davin Hunter and Brandon Ewing leading six players in double figures with 16 each. Flatirons Academy (5th) broke a two-game slide with a 66-18 victory over Beth Eden on Tuesday. Pistol Chavez led everyone with 23 points. Belleview Christian took a 58-44 win over the Bison back in December in tournament play. Ewing had 15 for the Bruins, while Josiah Durrill paced Flatirons with 11. This meeting is at Belleview Christian.
Stratton (4th) just played its first Union Pacific league game earlier this week, running past Deer Trail (51st) 77-28 for a sixth consecutive win. The streak also includes a big 49-44 victory over 2A Merino last week. The Eagles begin a crucial stretch with a trip to Genoa-Hugo (7th), who is just 4-3 since the start of January. Stratton is tied atop the league standings with 2A Limon, while the Pirates are two games back with only one UP game left on the slate. The Pirates won last year’s clash 61-55 behind 28 points from Trey Smith.
Cheyenne Wells (12th) has started to heat up recently, as the Tigers have won their last two and six of their last seven. Three of those wins were by single digits, and the most recent victory was by 11 over 4A Lamar on Tuesday. Carson Noe is averaging 16.5 ppg over the last two wins, including 19 against Lamar. The Tigers hit the road to face Wiley (14th) in a non-league game that could be a potential district preview. The Panthers are trending in the opposite direction, having lost their last two, but they had won eight straight prior to this current skid. Two of their four losses on the season have been by one point each, both by identical 47-46 scores. Evan Larrick leads a balanced attack at just under 12 points a game. Five Panthers go for at least eight points a night.
Sierra Grande (16th) owns a share of the Southern Peaks lead, along with Sangre de Cristo (25th), one game ahead of Moffat (38th) in the loss column. The Panthers welcome the Cowboys to town, looking to put them a full two games back. Sierra Grande is on a four-game winning streak, winning three of them by at least 20 points. Brian Ontiveros (13.8 ppg) and Manuel Miranda (13.1 ppg) are a solid 1-2 combination for the Panthers. Moffat is 3-2 over its last five games, with the Cowboys alternating wins and losses during the stretch. They downed Creede (53rd) 65-43 last Saturday, as they outscored the Miners 43-17 in the second half. Ziah Pesqueira went for 27, his fourth game with 23 or more points this season. Sierra Grande has won 15 straight in the series and 17 of the last 18 overall.
Three big contests in the High Plains league highlight the Friday schedule. McClave (3rd) hosts Eads (15th), with the Cards looking for a fifth straight win. They have scored at least 63 in each of their last four wins, including 66 in an 18-point victory over Granada (19th) last time out. Aiden Martinez (15) and Aydin Gomez (13) combined for 28, while Kolten Smartt and Connor Forgue each added 11 in that win. Eads has strung together wins in its last two contests, and has been victorious in four of the last five. Porter Spady has scored at least 16 points in each of the last four games for the Eagles. McClave has won the last three head-to-head meetings.
Cheraw (10th) has played four straight games decided by seven points or less, with the Wolverines going 2-2 over the course of those contests. They outscored Wiley 29-11 in the fourth quarter of last week’s 47-46 victory over the Panthers. A five-game losing streak has really hurt Kit Carson (31st) over the last few weeks and now the Wildcats are on the verge of falling out of the top-32 in the Seeding Index. Three of those five losses were at home, where they will be on Friday for this important league clash. The Wolverines have won three of the last four against Kit Carson, their only wins in the last 22 against the Wildcats.
The loss to McClave last Friday snapped a three-game winning streak for Granada, leaving the Bobcats two games below .500 on the season. That winning streak came on the heels of five straight losses. The Bobcats host Cheyenne Wells, attempting to hand the Tigers a fifth straight loss in the series.
As mentioned earlier, Stratton hosts 2A Byers on Friday, and pending the outcome of the Thursday night game for the Eagles, they could be looking to maintain a share of the UP lead. Byers had a three-game winning streak of its own snapped on Tuesday in a 35-33 loss at Evangelical Christian. The Bulldogs have four averaging double figures, led by Wyatt Harris, who is posting 13.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. Byers has won 15 of 17 in the series, including a 64-48 decision last year.
Otis (9th) is on the edge of wrapping up the YWKC title, thanks to a six-game winning streak. The Bulldogs have not lost since suffering consecutive losses to Stratton. Their last time out, the Bulldogs bounced Briggsdale (17th) 74-63. Six players scored at least six points in that win, with Sawyer Packer (21) and Jack Willeke (18) combining for 39. That duo also combined for 16 rebounds, 10 assists, and seven steals. Arickaree (23rd) ran out of legs in the second half of last Friday’s 70-46 loss at Idalia (22nd). It was the fourth game in five days for the Bison, who had won their last two before that defeat. Logan Wright posted a double-double of 14 points and 13 boards in the loss. The Bison can force a three-way tie atop the league standings with a win on the road. Otis won 43-34 in last year’s district contest, but Arickaree had won the previous six.
In the San Juan Basin, Dove Creek (6th) holds a one-game lead over 2A Mancos thanks to a 65-59 OT win over the Bluejays last Friday. That was the eighth straight win for the Bulldogs, but that streak ended on Wednesday in a 76-74 loss at 3A Bayfield. The Bulldogs scored 47 in the second half, but could not overcome a 24-14 second quarter by the Wolverines. Dove Creek hosts Ouray (30th) who could really help its postseason hopes with an upset victory. The Trojans nearly got the Bulldogs in tournament play in December, dropping a 57-56 decision. Dove Creek handled Ouray two weeks ago, 74-53.
A recent skid by Briggsdale has taken some of the shine off Saturday’s meeting with Flatirons Academy, but it’s still a clash of two top-17 teams in the Seeding Index. The Falcons have dropped four straight and five of their last six. The last four have been by an average of better than 16 a game. Briggsdale visits Peetz (33rd) on Friday, looking to snap the skid before facing the Bison. The Falcons have won the two prior contests with Flatirons.
Another interesting non-league tilt on Saturday has Nucla (26th) facing Sangre de Cristo in Gunnison. The Mustangs had won their last two games by a total of nine points heading into Wednesday’s home game with Dolores. A win in that game would have not only leveled the season record for the Mustangs, but also given them their first three-game winning streak of the year. They had a tough league contest at home on Thursday against 2A Mancos, so there’s a chance that they’ll be looking to get back into the win column on Saturday. Sangre was at Creede on Friday and the Thunderbirds already owned a lopsided win over the Miners earlier in the season, so they likely took a two-game winning streak into the game with Nucla. The winner could end up with a shorter trip in regionals because of the head-to-head factor.
A pair of non-league match-ups highlight the early slate next week, with Briggsdale visiting Front Range Baptist (11th) and Denver Jewish Day (2nd) traveling to Pikes Peak Christian (13th). Front Range Baptist dropped a tough 57-50 contest to Denver Jewish Day on Tuesday, as the Falcons were outscored 32-22 in the second half. That broke a three-game winning streak.
For the Tigers, that win was their eighth in a row and only their second all year by single digits. Pikes Peak Christian dropped a 63-56 affair to 3A Fountain Valley on Tuesday, breaking a three-game victory run. A second quarter advantage of 20-12 was the difference for the Danes. Eddie Harmon and Trevor Roney each had 17 for the Eagles in the loss.
One game on the Tuesday slate really jumps off the page, McClave visiting Sierra Grande. It’s a rematch of last year’s state semifinal, which the Cards won 53-35. Martinez had 16 points to lead McClave in that victory, while Ontiveros is the top returning scorer for the Panthers from that game. He had six. Major RPI points are on the line and a win by Sierra Grande could push them into the top-12 of the Seeding Index.