CLASS 1A GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW – SWEET 16
BY: KERRY SHERMAN
The regional field has been whittled in half, with just the Sweet 16 remaining. By the end of the day, we will know all eight qualifiers for the Class 1A girls state tournament at the University of Northern Colorado next weekend.
REGION 1 (MCCLAVE HIGH SCHOOL)
Top-seeded McClave had little trouble moving past #32 South Baca on Friday, building a 44-9 halftime advantage on its way to a 62-18 victory. Abrielle Gomez was a difference maker for the Lady Cardinals, with the freshman posting 27 points and 10 steals in the contest. McKayla Kiniston added a double-double of 11 points and 12 steals, and McClave recorded 32 steals as a team.
Points were certainly at a premium in the other semifinal, with Cheyenne Wells eking out a 26-22 win over #16 Kim/Branson. It was tempo both teams were comfortable playing. In a bit of irony, it was the same score by which the Lady Tigers had lost their last game in the District 2 tournament to Kit Carson.
Over the years, McClave has had the Lady Tigers’ number, winning 21 of the last 24 meetings, including the last 11 in a row. McClave took a 56-21 win in January, using a 26-9 first quarter and a 16-0 third. Kiniston led the Lady Cards with 17 points and seven steals, while Gomez kicked in 14 points. Amie Niles, Serenity Worley, and Aubry Carroll each had four points for Cheyenne Wells. McClave finished fourth in the state last year, while the Lady Tigers fell in the consolation championship in their first appearance in more than 40 years.
REGION 2 (SANGRE DE CRISTO HIGH SCHOOL)
With a 14-game winning streak under its belt, #8 Sangre de Cristo went into the semifinals looking like a strong bet to at least make the Sweet 16. But, key injuries and a feisty North Park squad kept that from happening. The #25 Lady Wildcats had been playing pretty good ball down the stretch, and after finding themselves in a 30-all tie midway through the third quarter, they put together a 7-0 run to grab control. They would not trail again. Abby Altwine buried a late two and Dezirae Gonzales iced it with two free throws to pull the 49-44 upset.
There wasn’t nearly as much drama in the late game, as #9 Granada grabbed an early lead and ended up cruising past #24 Genoa-Hugo 48-31. No stats were available. For the Lady Bobcats, it was their second straight win and ninth in their last 10.
While the two schools have met in the football playoffs recently, this will be the first meeting on the hardwood for the two sides. Granada has not been this deep in the postseason in the MaxPreps era. North Park was last in the Great 8 in 2017-18, when the Lady Wildcats made the consolation finals before finishing 6th.
REGION 3 (STRATTON HIGH SCHOOL)
A big second quarter spurt by #5 Stratton gave the Lady Eagles a 35-17 halftime lead over #28 Prairie and the top seed in the region did not look back, taking a 53-28 victory. Sedonia Isenbart stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, nine steals, eight rebounds, and six assists to guide the Lady Eagles to the Sweet 16.
They will not have to go very far to find a scouting report of their opponent, as it will be the third straight Saturday clash with them and #12 Idalia. The Lady Wolves overcame a slow start to pull away from #21 La Veta 54-30 in the early game. Jenna Wieser led the way with 14 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and five steals. Jaylyn Kechter tallied 13 points, 13 rebounds, and three steals, and Krista Wieser chipped in 12 points and six steals. The Lady Wolves racked up 34 offensive rebounds and 27 steals in the contest.
Stratton used a 24 point outburst by Isenbart to collect a 60-49 win over Idalia two weeks ago, while K. Wieser led Idalia with 16 points. In last weekend’s District 5 title contest, Stratton opened up a 30-18 halftime lead and held on for a 47-41 victory. The Isenbart cousins combined for 25 points, 13 by Sedonia and 12 by Sophia. Sophia also grabbed 13 rebounds. The Wieser sisters combined for 21, 11 from Krista and 10 from Jenna. Kechter added nine points and 10 boards.
REGION 4 (DOVE CREEK HIGH SCHOOL)
Dove Creek entered its regional semifinal against #29 De Beque already owning an 82-23 victory over the Lady Dragons. The Lady Bulldogs collected another lopsided win, as they cruised to their 20th of the season, 68-48. They are seeking a third straight trip to the Great 8 and can get there with a win today.
They will face a #13 Cheraw team that will most likely try to slow the tempo, as the Lady Wolverines have only won three games this season in the 50s. The rest of their wins have seen them score 44 or fewer points. That includes a 35-24 victory over #20 Otis in the regional semifinals. The Lady Wolverines’ 14 wins are the most for the program since earning 17 in the 2014-15 season, which is the last time they reached the Sweet 16. A win puts them in the Great 8 for the first time since 2013-14.
Dove Creek won the only other meeting between the two sides, a 64-47 decision in December of 2019. Rylee Hickman was the third-leading scorer for the Lady Bulldogs as a freshman in that game, scoring eight. Abby Provost was tied for third on the Lady Wolverines with five.
REGION 5 (FLATIRONS ACADEMY)
The second overall seed in the bracket, Flatirons Academy took care of business in the first half against #31 Wiley, owning a 26-5 lead at the quarter and 49-9 at the break. The Lady Bison would go on for a 78-15 win to reach the Sweet 16 for a fourth straight year. They are hunting their third straight state championship.
Hi-Plains prevented a rematch of the District 8 final by upending #18 Belleview Christian 47-21 in the semifinals. The Lady Patriots led 10-1 by the end of the first quarter, and they held Lady Bruin stand-out Bethany Long without a point in her final high game. Long did grab 11 rebounds and block six shots. Hi-Plains is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013-14, when they lost to Caliche. Their last Great 8 trip was 15 years ago.
REGION 6 (SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL)
We get Chapter 3 of Springfield and Kit Carson, after the host #7 Lady Longhorns took down Flagler 49-44 in one semifinal and #10 Kit Carson bounced Sierra Grande 64-24 in the other. Springfield built a 30-18 halftime lead, but saw the Lady Panthers trim it to four late in the contest before the Lady Longhorns hit a FT to seal the victory. Outside of a 12-11 second quarter, Kit Carson dominated its game with their own set of Lady Panthers. The Lady Wildcats got out to a 23-5 first quarter lead, were up 35-16 at the half, and then cruised after the break, outscoring Sierra Grande 29-8 in the final 16 minutes. Mariana Loya was held to nine points for Sierra Grande, but the senior also provided eight rebounds and five blocks in her final contest.
Kit Carson won the first meeting with Springfield 42-22 in the third place game of the Lamar Holiday Tournament. Kenzie Wagonner led the Lady Wildcats with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Lainee Leathers topped Springfield with six points and four boards. About three and a half weeks ago, it was the Lady Wildcats defending their home court, 36-23. This time around, it was Tess Johnson pacing Kit Carson with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Brakelle Westphal going for nine points and nine rebounds for the Lady Longhorns.
A win today puts Kit Carson in its first Great 8 since the COVID season of 2020-21, when the Lady Wildcats reached the Final 4 before falling to Fleming. Springfield has not been to the Great 8 since the season prior to that. The Lady Longhorns had won their quarterfinal contest against McClave to reach the Final 4. The remainder of the tournament was canceled due to the COVID shutdown.
REGION 7 (KIOWA HIGH SCHOOL)
Neither contest in the region was particularly close on Friday, with #6 Kiowa using a 35-7 second half to run away from Front Range Baptist 55-18 in the opener, and #11 Fleming pitching a first quarter shutout (11-0) of Arickaree on its way to a 37-20 victory.
Fleming has been in the Great 8 or deeper every season since 2016-17 and the Lady Wildcats can extend that run with a win in the regional final. The Lady Indians have not been that deep in the postseason since 2015-16, when they took home the consolation championship in 2A. Fleming has won the last two meetings, the most recent of which came in December of 2019.
REGION 8 (BRIGGSDALE HIGH SCHOOL)
After watching #14 Eads hold off Nucla, 42-35 in the first semifinal, #3 Briggsdale handled its business with Rocky Mountain Lutheran early. The Lady Falcons ran out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and put it in cruise control the rest of the way to earn a 61-22 victory. They have been in the Sweet 16 every year dating back to the 2013-14 season. The Lady Falcons have advanced to the Great 8 in all but one of those previous seasons.
Leading 10-9 after a back-and-forth first quarter, #14 Eads put together a game-changing second frame, as the Lady Eagles outscored Nucla 17-9 in the period. That eight minute stretch gave them the cushion to withstand every Lady Mustang challenge in the second half to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2019-20. Eads is looking to return to the Great 8 for the first time since 2016-17, when it lost the consolation championship to Briggsdale. That was the most recent of three meetings between the two programs during the MaxPreps era. Eads won the two earlier ones.