CLASS 1A GIRLS BASKETBALL WEEKEND PREVIEW
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
Once again, a storm system is wreaking havoc on the basketball schedule. However, this time around there aren’t a lot of opportunities to get postponed games rescheduled. We want to take a look at the biggest games remaining on the calendar for the final weekend of the regular season. Please note that some of these games may have been shuffled to another date, or may have been canceled altogether. The rankings used are from the most recent CHSAA Selection and Seeding Index update on Thursday morning.
The busy final weekend involving District 2 teams gets started with McClave (1st) making the short trip east to take on rival Wiley (27th). McClave is unbeaten on the season after surviving a pair of close calls last week, beating Kit Carson (5th) by five and Fleming (6th) by nine. The gap between the Lady Cards and Granada (4th) or Kit Carson appears to be large enough that they should have the top seed for districts wrapped up, but the margin for errors gets considerably smaller with a loss. Chloe Webber went for a career-high 16 points in a 63-17 win over Wiley in December. It’s her only double figure scoring game this season, and seventh in her career.
Wiley should be safely in the regional field, but will be the seventh seed at districts next week. The Lady Panthers have alternated losses and wins over their last five games, and enter the contest on the heels of a 26-24 loss to South Baca (29th) on Tuesday. With this being their regular season finale, they are guaranteed to complete that portion of the schedule without having won consecutive games. Fatima Gomez and Grace White combine for 15 points, 13 rebounds, and six steals a game.
Eads (15th) finds itself in a big non-league contest at home against Genoa-Hugo (24th), after falling at home against Idalia (10th) 42-32 on Tuesday. The Lady Eagles are only two spots ahead of Cheyenne Wells (17th) for the #6 seed in District 2, and the Tuesday loss was a heartbreaker. Tied at 31 heading into the fourth, the Lady Eagles were held scoreless until the closing seconds. It broke a three-game winning streak.
Genoa-Hugo is currently the #2 seed for District 7, with no chance of catching Kiowa (8th) or of being caught by their closest challengers. They close things out on Saturday with Otis (26th) so this is more about improving their ranking in the Seeding Index to make the wait for the regional bracket release in just over a week a little less stressful. They’ve dropped two straight and four of their last five.
Fleming hosts 2A #4 Sedgwick County in non-league action and the Lady Wildcats still harbor hopes of taking the top seed for District 4. After facing the red-hot Lady Cougars, winners of nine of their last 11, Fleming closes at Idalia on Friday. They sit three spots behind Briggsdale (3rd) in the Seeding Index, and lost the head-to-head contest with the Lady Falcons. The final four games of the regular season included losses at McClave and at home against Flatirons Academy (2nd).
Sedgwick County just nipped Briggsdale 53-52 on Tuesday, backing up wins over 3A #5 Yuma and 2A #11 Wray. If regionals began today, all but one member of the LPAA would be playing on, with only Holyoke on the outside looking in. The Lady Cougars are 3-1 since Kierra Ehnes made her season debut after missing most of the season because of an injury.
In a game that will help determine seeding for the District 6 bracket, La Veta (28th) hosts Sierra Grande (28th). While Springfield (13th) and Kim/Branson (16th) already have the top two spots locked up, Sierra Grande can claim third with a road win. The Lady Panthers bounced back from tough losses to McClave and Sangre de Cristo (11th) to beat Centennial (37th) 51-47 last Saturday. Mariana Loya posted a big double-double of 21 points and 20 rebounds, as the Lady Panthers overcame a 17-13 halftime deficit.
La Veta had its four-game winning streak snapped by Cheraw (12th) on Tuesday, 43-16, and another loss could drop the Lady Redhawks to fifth in the D3 field. They sit right in front of South Baca, who they host on Friday. Pulling an upset of Sierra Grande would provide a little bit of a cushion heading into that contest.
Hanover (36th) and Pikes Peak Christian (38th) meet in what could be a preview of a District 7 match-up. They’re currently fourth and fifth in the field, and both need to stack up some wins to inch closer to a regional berth. Hanover has won three of its last four, while Pikes Peak Christian brings a two-game losing streak into the game. Hanover won the earlier meeting 40-28.
All six members of the High Plains league head into the final weekend in the top-17 of the Seeding Index. All will be in action on Friday, with Cheraw hosting McClave, Eads hosting Granada, and Kit Carson visiting Cheyenne Wells. The cuts between the top three are pretty small, as are those for the bottom three, so each game will create movement in the district seeding.
The top spot in District 3 is likely up for grabs when Kim/Branson hosts Springfield. Springfield already owns wins over every other team in the district, except the Lady Mustangs. The Lady Longhorns are 6-2 in their last eight, but enter on a 36-23 non-league loss to Kit Carson on Tuesday. Kim/Branson has lost its last two and is just 4-4 in the last eight. Springfield has won the last two in the series and six of the last seven.
The aforementioned game between Fleming and Idalia might mean more for the Lady Wolves, as they’re locked in a knock-down, drag-out with Stratton (9th) for the top spot in District 5. Those two were supposed to play on Thursday, but the snow storm has pushed it back to Saturday. Instead, the Lady Wolves will see Fleming first, and they’re looking to beat the Lady Wildcats for the first time since 2016. They met twice last year, with Fleming taking a 53-48 win in the regular season, and then coming back in the fourth quarter at regionals to earn a 38-35 victory. Five of the last nine meetings have been decided by single digits.
Stratton also has a tough match-up prior to the finale with Idalia, as the Lady Eagles host 2A #12 Limon, looking to clinch a share of the Union Pacific title. Limon is unbeaten in league play, while Stratton has a nine-point loss to 2A #5 Burlington. A win by the Lady Eagles would create a three-way tie for the crown. The loss to Burlington started their current two-game slide, with a 66-37 loss at 2A #8 Simla in their last outing.
Dove Creek (7th) already has the top seed in District 1 locked up, but a win at Nucla (20th) secures the San Juan Basin title, as well. The Lady Bulldogs have not lost since Dec. 3rd, and already have two wins over Nucla, 43-25 and 62-31. Lexi Gray is just 11 points shy of having a 700 point, 700 rebound career, and is 13 steals from 200 for her career. Nucla has won three straight overall, and can help its district seeding by extending that to four. De Beque (21st) is right on the heels of the Lady Mustangs for the #2 seed.
District 5 foes meet in Flagler (19th) when the Lady Panthers host Otis. They are currently fourth and sixth, respectively, in the district seeding, with Arickaree (23rd) sandwiched between. Flagler has been very streaky of late, losing three before winning two, then losing two ahead of a current two-game winning streak. Balance is a key, as Jaylie Stone (12.7 ppg), Madison Crisp (10.6 ppg), and Allison Daly (10.2 ppg) all average double figures. Daly is shooting 37% from three. Otis has lost its last three, two to teams in the top-6 of their respectively classifications. Four players average between eight and 10 points a game, including Madelyn Willeke at 8.2, to go with close to nine rebounds.
The big games continue on Saturday, with the Stratton trip to Idalia having the most on the line. If either team picks up a win on Friday, they will have a small cushion over the other, but if both lose, Stratton takes the slight edge into the game. However, either way, the winner of Saturday’s contest should be the #1 seed for District 5. Both teams are loaded with youth, so this could be a preview of late season slugfests to come.
Regardless of how Kit Carson does against Cheyenne Wells on Friday, the Lady Wildcats will have one more chance to possibly jump Granada for the #2 seed in D2, as they host Simla. The Lady Cubs secured the 2A Black Forest title with a win over ECA (21st) on Tuesday. It was the most recent win in an eight-game victory run. Simla broke a three-game losing streak in the series with a 44-43 thriller last year. Jillian Nipple led everyone with 16 points, while Kenzie Waggoner had 14 for Kit Carson.