CLASS 1A GIRLS BASKETBALL WEEKEND PREVIEW
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
It’s the penultimate weekend of the basketball regular season, and the schedule is loaded with important contests. The CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index will be used to seed the eight district tournaments, and that is the metric used in our preview. However, there was word late in the week that districts comprised of teams from just one league might be able to seed according to league standings.
One of the biggest match-ups of the entire weekend takes place when Kim/Branson (15th) visits Granada (4th) on Thursday. It’s a non-league clash and both teams are in the running to host their respective district tournament. Both enter the game with 12 wins.
Kim/Branson is locked in a tight race with Springfield to be the top seed in District 3 and they meet in the regular season finale. That game will most likely decided that top spot, but a win against Granada would definitely help the cause of the Lady Mustangs. Scoring enough points might be a challenge for Kim/Branson as it has only topped 40 points three times this season, and none have happened in the last month. The Lady Bobcats have only failed to score 40 or more three times. Two of those have been against McClave (3rd). Those two losses will probably keep Granada out of the top seed in District 2, but it has been a break-out year for the program that had not won more than eight games in a season during the MaxPreps era, dating back to the 2006-07 campaign.
A third team is in the mix in District 2, with Kit Carson (6th) right on the heels of McClave and Granada. The Lady Wildcats can create a big shake-up with a win on Thursday at home against the Lady Cards. They take a three-game winning streak into that contest, the latest being a 39-35 OT decision over Idalia (11th) last Saturday. Tess Johnson posted a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds to help Kit Carson pick up that high profile victory. McClave has only had three games decided by single digits, and one came against Kit Carson (43-34) in the semifinals of the Lamar Holiday Tournament. Abrielle Gomez recorded 16 points and six steals in that win. No one else scored more than nine points for either side.
Stratton (8th) hosts 2A #7 Burlington, trying to remain unbeaten in the Union Pacific league. The Lady Eagles are 4-0, tied with 2A #14 Limon for the lead in the league. They are also trying to stay ahead of Idalia for the #1 seed in District 5. Those two meet next Thursday. Behind junior Sedonia Isenbart, who is averaging better than 18 points a game, the Lady Eagles have won their last seven games. Burlington is just one game back of the co-leaders following a 51-48 loss to Limon last Saturday. That’s part of a two-game slide that has followed a five-game winning streak. Kiyarra Williams (21.3 ppg, 12 rpg) and Trinitee Holmes (14.8 ppg) lead the Lady Cougars. The last time these two squads met, Isenbart suffered a knee injury that sidelined her for the second half of last season.
The top two spots in District 5 appear to be locked up, but Hi-Plains (14th) is trying to secure the third spot. The Lady Patriots have won three straight and five of their last six, with the lone blemish coming in OT against Cheyenne Wells (17th) two weeks ago. Scoring depth has been a big key this season. Even though no one is averaging double figures, six players contribute between five and nine points a game. Caelan Church leads the way at 9.2 ppg. Akron (2A #3) has been in the top-five of the 2A rankings for much of the season, but a recent two-game skid has the Lady Rams stumbling. They have one of the top small school players in the state in junior Addi Kessinger, who averages 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds a game. She recently posted a 21 point, 12 rebound, 10 block triple-double, and she enters the game just 22 points shy of 1000 for her career.
A lot of the Friday focus shifts south, with Granada hosting Cheraw (10th) and McClave welcoming Fleming (5th) to town. Cheraw is part of the tightly packed group in District 2, and a hot streak to close the regular season could vault the Lady Wolverines to the top, especially with a finale against McClave. They had their 10-game winning streak snapped last Friday by Kit Carson, who put a 30-point drubbing on them. Cheraw has won 12 straight and 15 of the last 16 against Granada.
You usually have to wait until state to get a match-up like Fleming and McClave. Fleming has won its last two since dropping three to 2A #1 Merino, Briggsdale (2nd), and Akron. They were unbeaten until that stretch. Kally Kirkwood leads a balanced attack at just under 11 points a game. While Gomez draws a lot attention because of the numbers she’s posting as a freshman, McKayla Kinniston provides steady leadership as a junior. She’s giving the team almost 10 points, eight rebounds, seven steals, and four assists a night. The three most recent meetings between the two programs have all been at state, with Fleming winning all three, including a 46-28 decision last year.
Stratton faces another top 2A program on Friday, when the Lady Eagles travel to Simla (9th). The Lady Bear Cubs have picked up five straight wins since a five-point loss to Burlington almost a month ago. Kylie Maranville leads them at almost 14 points and seven rebounds, while recent NJC softball signee Ryann Eurich gives another 8.5 points and six rebounds.
Sangre de Cristo (12th) has all but locked up the #1 seed in District 6, and a home win over Sierra Grande (24th) on Friday should do the trick. The Lady Thunderbirds have won eight straight since a loss to 2A #15 Del Norte in early January. Peyton Metz, Palma Enriquez, and Idahlia Garcia all score between nine and 14 points. Garcia grabs more than nine rebounds a game to go with almost 10 points. Sierra Grande had its five-game winning streak snapped in a lopsided loss to McClave on Tuesday. During that winning streak, the Lady Panthers had only been held under 58 points once. Mariana Loya leads them in scoring (17 ppg), rebounding (9.5), and blocks (1.3). Sangre owns wins in the last five meetings, and 17 of the last 21 overall.
There is no shortage of quality match-ups on Saturday, and we start off with the two-time defending champs, Flatirons Academy (1st) , traveling to Fleming. The Lady Bison ran their winning streak to nine with a dominant 95-10 victory over Mile High Academy on Tuesday. However, it was one game before that that everyone was focused on. The Lady Bison went to Briggsdale on Saturday and used strong second and fourth quarters to pull out a 53-47 win, handing the Lady Falcons their first loss of the year. Emily Dehaan (13), Emma Cox (13), and Kenlee Durrill (12) all went for double digits. Cox added 14 rebounds and seven blocks. Flatirons has won the last two contests with Fleming.
Briggsdale could be riding a three-game winning streak into its contest at Kiowa, (9th) with victories over Front Range Baptist and Lone Star already in the till, and a home game against Arickaree (25th) on Friday. Junior Jenna Krise went into the Lone Star game only 71 points shy of 1000 in her career. Averaging just under 24 points a game, there’s a chance she could hit the milestone against Kiowa. The Lady Indians will do everything in their power to force her to wait until next week. Kiowa put up a tough fight against a good 2A #6 Gilpin County squad on Monday, eventually dropping a 43-34 decision. It was their second loss in a four game span. This will be the first meeting since 2018, which was won by Briggsdale.
Another huge non-league affair has Cheraw visiting Springfield (13th). The Lady Wolverines will have to refill their tanks quickly after Friday’s game at Granada as they travel for a game with the Lady Longhorns who had won four straight prior to a loss to Stanton County (KS) on Tuesday. They were likely to get back into the win column on Friday as they hosted a winless Walsh squad. It’s a big one, with Springfield and Kim/Branson fighting it out to claim the #1 seed in District 3. Cheraw also has a lot on the line, as the Lady Wolverines are locked in the tough fight for D2 seeding. The Lady Wolverines snapped a five-game skid in the series with a 34-29 win last year.
While Dove Creek (7th) is running away with the top seed in District 1, the race for the second spot is pretty tight. De Beque (22nd) narrowly trails Nucla (23rd) for that spot, and the Lady Dragons have a home game with 2A #18 Hayden that could generate some separation with a victory. They had a four-game winning streak snapped by 2A #16 Rangely last Saturday, with one of those wins coming by two points over Nucla. Hayden’s won its last three heading into that big clash.