Courier Sports Editor
SAN LUIS VALLEY—Normally basketball seasons are all but decided in the final weekend entering the postseason phase, however, that is not the case this year as most teams have games this weekend that will play huge dividends in league standings, state rankings and postseason possibilities.
In Class 3A, the Intermountain League title battles and rankings should give a good glance as to how the regular season will end.
On the girls’ side, the attention in the state turns to the Centauri Falcons. In this week’s polls, the Falcons are ranked No. 2 in both Colorado Preps and Denver Post polls. In both polls, Denver Science and Technology was back atop the Class 3A girls’ basketball rankings after Lamar edged last week’s No. 1 ranked St. Mary’s 32-30.
The polls, which were released on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, were in turmoil less than 24 hours after they were released. Monday night was a huge state game with No. 4 Holy Family taking on No. 1 Denver Science and Technology. As luck and defense would have it, the Tigers, who were state champions in four of the last five years, nabbed a 39-33 win.
With that being said, the Falcon’s No. 2 ranking has an asterisk next to as they enter an IML contest at Bayfield on Friday night. It is also the Falcons’ highest ranking since 2006, when the Falcons defeated the Denver Christian Crusaders, 62-57, for their second state title.
"Every team and every year is different, but the similarities we have here at Centauri are great kids that are hard workers," said Falcon Head Coach Dave Forster. "2006 was a unforgettable year, we would like to duplicate that experience for this team, but still have a lot of basketball left to play."
The Falcons, whose only loss is to Class 4A’s No. 7 ranked Palmer Ridge (59-46) at Woodland Park’s Mountain Madness tournament, carry a 13-1 overall record and a spotless 3-0 conference record into the contest. The Wolverines, a ‘Team to Watch’ according to Colorado Preps, carry a 7-5 overall record and a 1-1 IML record.
The Falcons, who are averaging 57.6 points per game and 32.2 rebounds per game, are led by senior Taylor Wilson. Wilson, who averages 14 points per game, leads the team in 3-pointers with a total of 25. Junior Tori Fringer, who has 93 rebounds on the season, leads the team in 2-point field goals with 71 converted for 13 points per game average.
In addition to Wilson’s 75 points off 3-pointers, she leads the team with 75 steals.
The Wolverines are averaging 41.1 (493 in 12 games) points and 33.2 rebounds per game. The team is led by senior Destini McGheyhey, who has scored 107 points (9.7 ppg) on the season. She scored 49 of those points on free throws (49-of-108, 45.3 percent). The most she has scored in a game is 16 when the Wolverines defeated Wingate (N.M.) 56-43. Centauri will have their hands full trying to stop senior Micaela Knickerbocker from stealing the ball as she has amassed 48 (4 spg) so far this season.
"Since this is the only game we have this week, we get to focus on Bayfield," said Forster. "It's important because it is an Intermountain league game and away. Bayfield is a tough place to play."
The Wolverines and Falcons game is slated to tip off at 5:30 p.m.
"We're expecting Bayfield's best shot," said Forster. "We will respond with our best."
The biggest game on the boys’ side is clash between two Top 10 ranked teams as the Alamosa Mean Moose host the Pagosa Springs Pirates.
The Moose, who are ranked No. 8 in Colorado Preps and have received nine votes in the Denver Post Poll, are tied with the Pirates for the top spot in the IML with a 2-0 conference record and a 10-3 overall record. The Pirates, who are ranked No. 2 in both polls, are 11-1 overall.
Four of the Pirates’ 11 wins have come on the hands of the San Luis Valley’s Class 2A schools including two over Del Norte, and one over Sanford and Sargent. The Pirates also defeated Centauri 64-39. The Moose have also defeated the Tigers, Indians, Farmers and Falcons.
The Pirates are averaging 59.9 points and 30 rebounds per game and will have the outstanding shooting of senior Kain Lucero. Lucero has eight games in which he has scored at least 20 points and does not have a single game this season with less than 12 points.
Alamosa, who average 47.3 points per game and 28.1 rebounds per game, are a very well rounded team led by senior Zach Meyer, who is averaging 12.8 points per game. Sophomore Ethan Caton and senior Sam Bilderbeck are right behind him each averaging 7.8 points per game.
The boys’ contest is stated to tip off at 7 p.m. and according to the Maroon Pride Facebook page, students who are wearing maroon will be admitted to the game for just one dollar.
That contest will follow the girls’ contest that pits the No. 5 (Denver Post) ranked Pagosa Springs against a young Alamosa squad that received five votes in the Denver Post poll.
The Centauri boys team are receiving four votes in the Denver Post poll.
In Class 2A, the Sangre de Cristo girls’ basketball team is ranked No. 10 in Colorado Preps and receiving just three votes in the Denver Post poll. The Sanford Indians lead the way on the boys’ side by being ranked No. 5 in the Denver Post poll and No. 6 in the Colorado Preps pill. Sierra Grande and Sangre de Cristo are tabbed as ‘Teams to Watch’. Both teams were in consideration to be ranked in the Top 10 but according to Kevin Schaefer at Colorado Preps, “Sierra Grande was under consideration for the open slot but the Panthers lost in the previous week to Sangre De Cristo. The T-Birds missed a chance to enter the rankings with a loss to Sargent last Friday.”