CLASS 1A BOYS BASKETBALL WEEKEND PREVIEW
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
The final three days of the regular season are full of key clashes that will help settle the seeding for next week’s district tournaments. Some of the games listed could be postponed because of travel conditions, and other may have to be canceled due to a lack of make-up dates. All rankings are from the Thursday morning update of the CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index.
McClave (2nd) looks to have the top seed in District 2 locked up, but the teams behind them are in a logjam. One of those squads just happens to be their rivals from Wiley (13th) who plays host on Thursday. The Panthers are fourth in the seeding, but only one spot behind Cheraw (12th), and one ahead of Eads (14th). Wiley has won two straight and three of its last four, with the lone loss coming against Eads. Cooper Tixier went for a season-high 23 points in a 65-27 win over South Baca (47th) on Tuesday.
The Cards ride a nine-game winning streak into the contest, all but one by at least 14 points. Their last loss came in early January against 2A #3 Simla, 53-45. Aiden Martinez is just 20 points shy of 1000 in his career, and he’s 10 assists from 200. He’s scored double figures in all but one game this season. Martinez scored 17 in a 58-37 win over the Panthers in the Lamar Holiday Tournament. Tixier led Wiley with 11.
Eads can make a big move up the Seeding Index if the Eagles can upset Genoa-Hugo (7th). With Granada (17th) looming on Friday, a pair of wins locks the Eagles into third for districts, but a pair of losses could potentially drop them to sixth. Porter Spady helped guide Eads to a 59-55 overtime win over Idalia (20th) on Tuesday with 32 points. He was 10-10 from the stripe and added a dozen rebounds. The lone loss for Eads in the last four outings was a 42-40 defeat by Cheyenne Wells (6th) last Friday.
Genoa-Hugo had its six-game winning streak ended by Cheyenne Wells 47-34 on Tuesday, with Trey Smith scoring 15 points. The junior is averaging more than 18 a game, and has a shot at 1000 career points if the Pirates can make a deep postseason run. Otis (5th) awaits the Pirates on Saturday.
Pikes Peak Christian (16th) holds the second spot in District 7 behind Genoa-Hugo, and if the regional brackets were set today, they would be the only two teams from the district to advance. The Eagles have dropped three straight, including a forfeit to 2A #16 Custer County on Tuesday. The other two were to Denver Jewish Day (3rd) and Belleview Christian (1st). They host Hanover (36th), looking to make it a sweep of the Hornets this season. The Eagles earned a 67-42 win about three weeks ago, with Eddie Harmon posting a 23-point, 18-rebound double-double. Trey Merrill added one of his own with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Hornets have lost their last two and four of their last six. They probably need to win their final two regular season games and possibly two more in the district tournament to reach regionals. Tyler Decker and Ben Kyne each had 11 points in the first meeting with Pikes Peak Christian.
Sierra Grande (15th) and La Veta (19th) are both locks for regionals, and both are in line for a top-two seed in their respective district. La Veta got a huge 61-57 win over Cheraw on Tuesday, using a 17-7 fourth quarter to secure the victory. Trey Medina (21), Joe Autry (19), and Jeremiah Rodriguez (10) combined for 50 points in the win. It was the fourth straight for the Redhawks.
The Panthers wrapped up the Southern Peaks title with wins over Sangre de Cristo (26th) and Centennial (22nd) last weekend. They’ve won seven of their last night, with the losses coming to Cheraw by seven and McClave by two. Brian Ontiveros, who averages 15 points a game, had 23 in the win over Centennial.
Two more big contests inside the High Plains league will happen on Friday, with McClave visiting Cheraw and Eads hosting Granada. As mentioned earlier, these games can lead to a lot of jostling in the district seeding. Cheraw is just 1-2 in its last three, but 5-2 dating back to late January. Three of the six Wolverine losses are by single digits. Granada is getting healthy at the right time of year and the Bobcats have won four straight heading into their game with Eads. They had a game at Bethune on Thursday canceled because of travel concerns. Four of their eight losses are by single digits, including a pair of two-pointers.
Stratton (4th) had won eight of nine heading into last Thursday’s loss at home to 2A #15 Burlington and after dropping a nine-point decision at 2A #3 Simla the following night, the Eagles saw their lead over Otis (5th) for the top spot in the District 5 tournament almost completely evaporate. They were supposed to visit Idalia on Thursday, but the snow storm earlier in the week caused that to be postponed until Saturday. While the Eagles wait for that important contest, they will wrap up Union Pacific play on Friday against 2A #1 Limon. The Eagles have not beaten Limon since 2007.
Otis hits the road on Friday with 12 straight wins, including a 70-64 victory over 2A #6 Merino on Tuesday. Jack Willeke recorded 21 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, leading four Bulldogs in double figures. Willeke is just 73 points from 1000 in his career. The Bulldogs will visit Flagler (45th), who has a senior of its own on the verge of the same milestone. Camden Bledsoe needs 20 points to hit 1000. As things stood on Thursday, that would be a preview of a district quarterfinal game.
After losses in two of three games, Dove Creek (10th) got back on track in a big way last Saturday. The Bulldogs blasted 2A Dolores (59th) 93-44. They only led 31-26 at the half, but scored 31 in each of the final two frames. All seven players who scored reached double figures, led by Kendall Gardner with 18 and Cole Taber with 16. The Bulldogs are positioned as the top seed in District 1 and are looking for a three-game sweep of Nucla (24th), having already claimed wins of 49-32 and 71-42. The Mustangs had won five of six before suffering a 48-43 loss at the hands of 2A Telluride (35th).
The delay of the game between Stratton and Idalia puts the Wolves contest with Fleming (11th) in the spotlight first. The Wolves had their six-game winning streak snapped by Eads on Tuesday and their hold on the #3 seed for District 5 is tenuous at best. Kale Morris had 22 points in the game, but fouled out in OT. Eddy Estrada drilled a buzzer beating three to send the game to the extra session, but Idalia could not keep up in the OT period. Fleming ended a two-game slide with a 63-53 win over Flatirons Academy (9th) last Saturday, giving the Wildcats wins in six of their last eight. Nolan Japp scored a season-high 20 points in that win. Fleming had won four straight against Idalia before a 57-48 loss last year.
When Genoa-Hugo hosts Otis on Saturday, the biggest impact could be on the district seeding of the Bulldogs. The Pirates are locked in as the #1 for District 7. Stratton’s game at Idalia will also impact the District 5 seeding. Also, both games will help the teams that don’t win a district title, as the strength of schedule will give boosts in the Seeding Index for at large regional berths.
Sierra Grande is in control of the top spot in District 6, but there is a lot of uncertainty behind the Panthers. Centennial sits second, just ahead of Sangre de Cristo. Moffat (39th) is fourth and currently on the outside of the regional field. The Cowboys can help their cause with an upset of Centennial at home in the finale. They head into the final weekend on a two-game slide, with a big game on Thursday against Primero (44th) who is fifth in the district standings. Centennial had 11 total wins over the previous three seasons, but the Rams surpassed that number with their 12th win last Friday. It was the last of a three-game streak that came to an end with the loss the following night to Sierra Grande. They’ve lost the last three meetings with Moffat, including two in a three-day span last season.