CHSAA preseason girls basketball rankings
By STEPHEN JIRON
Courier Sports Editor
The days are getting shorter, no sooner does the sun come up than we are preparing for the onset of the return of night. And that means escaping the impending cold inside a gym for some basketball.
Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) has released its preseason rankings for girls prep basketball. Last year the sport was dominated by the ladies of the San Luis Valley.
Both Alamosa and Centauri girls advanced through the state tournament to the Great 8 finals at Denver University. In Loveland for Class 2A play it was Sanford and Del Norte girls. The two valley squads played for third place with Del Norte taking the trophy home. In Class A, Sangre de Cristo girls’ squad also made the state tournament. The Thunderbird boys would advance to the state final against the DeBeque Dragons. The Following are the CHSAA rankings of the girls’ basketball squads from the valley.
6. Centauri – 45 points
Their first year under new head coach Troy Reynolds, was rather successful as the Falcons were able to make the state tournament. Beyond the accomplishment of qualifying for the tournament, the Falcons advanced through their local play quadrant and met second-seeded Colorado Springs Christian at the Great 8 in Denver. The Falcons fell 60-48 and the Lions went on to become the State Championship runners up.
This year, there is plenty of youth moving up for the girls in red. Centauri will see the return of four of their top five scorers. As well as their most accurate perimeter shooter in McKenna Bagwell who shot 25 percent from beyond the arc a season ago. The Falcons will also look for the return of inside specialist Courtney Hamilton who led the team in total rebounds and blocks for the 2018/19 season. The Falcons will open their season at the Mountain Top Classic, Centauri’s first opponent will be Olathe on Dec. 5th at 7 p.m.
7. Alamosa – 36 points
Head Coach Shawn Cody has the Moose headed in the right direction. Since Cody has taken over the program in the 2018-19 season the Moose have been a combined 31-16 including two playoff berths. Last season, Alamosa would advance to the Great 8 State Finals at Denver University where they met the top-ranked team in the state, St. Mary’s. The Moose couldn’t eliminate the Pirates and St. Mary’s would go on to win the 3A title.
Alamosa should be fine offensively as leading scorer Lilly Lavier and three-point ace Emily Lavier both look to be back in action. Defensively Alamosa may look to press the speed advantage (Lilly amassed 108 steals a season ago) to make up for what they lost in height. Sylvie Caton, who led the team in total rebounds and was second on the team in scoring graduated last year. Alamosa will take on Sanford to start the season on Dec. 6th at 5:30 p.m.
2. Sanford – 85 points
Sanford shocked the Budweiser Event Center last season when they completed a 1-8 upset over the top-ranked Limon Badgers in the first round of the playoffs. Tenacious defense and relentless offense continued to the Final Four against Swink. Sanford would battle Swink coming up just three points short of a state championship berth. Sanford would settle for fourth place behind Del Norte.
The sky is the limit for the young team moving forward. Sanford graduated four seniors but two of the top three scorers for Sanford were actually underclassmen. Mackenzie Peterson led Sanford in scoring a season ago posting 170 points behind her were then-freshmen the Caldons, Asia and Cheyenne.
Sanford will be baptized in fire to start the season. The schedule shows Sanford going above their weight class with four 3A opponents in their first four games, three of which were Great 8 finalists. The first of the four will be Alamosa on Dec. 6th at 5:30 p.m.
5. Del Norte – 59 points
The Tigers had an unorthodox entry to the state tournament, Del Norte fell behind 27-15 to Simla at the regional tournament championship before surging to a 54-42 win in the second half to advance to state. At state, the Tigers would clear all opponents except the eventual state champions, Yuma. Del Norte would best Sanford in the third-place game to take home a bronze trophy. Among the accolades for Del Norte was head coach Gilbert Sanchez taking home Colorado High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) Coach of the Year.
Sanchez’s girls graduated 6 seniors from a season ago. Del Norte will look for the return of their perennial scoring leader Kendra Parra. Parra led the team with 566 points a season ago. The Tigers will miss Lacie Jones who was second on the team in scoring and led in total rebounds as well as blocks. The first contest for Del Norte is listed as Monte Vista on Dec. 5th at 6 p.m.
Receiving votes. Center – 1 point
The Vikings could not register a winning record in the regular season a year ago (7-12), but played well at the 2A District tournament at Adams State last season defeating Custer County in the first round and even earned a place at regionals facing Swink in the regional tournament. Center will benefit from the fact they are a young squad as they were led in scoring by Alexis Varela who was a freshman last season. Not only that but Center’s next four top scorers all have eligibility for next year. That includes Brandi Almeida, who will be invaluable this season as in addition to being the No. 2 scorer, she led the team in total rebounds and blocks a season ago.
The Vikings are slated to be at the Thunderbird Shootout in Mosca to start their season. Center’s first opponent of the year is scheduled as Antonito on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
6. Sangre de Cristo - 48
Completing the trifecta, the Sangre de Cristo girls would represent the San Luis Valley at the Class A State Basketball tournament. The Thunderbirds would suffer both losses of the double-elimination tournament early. But there is room for optimism.
According to MaxPreps, The T-Birds will be under the tutelage of Dave Forster for the 2019/20 season. Forster was 168-68 at the helm in Centauri over the past ten years. That and the Thunderbirds graduated just one senior from last season. Meaning the return of Mackenzie Rogers who led the team in blocks as well as scorers Lexie Metz and Tori Ford. As well as Kylee Christensen who was lost last season to an injury. Then-senior Jessica Slane shouldered the load with the loss of Christensen and led the Thunderbirds in scoring and collected 8 double-doubles. Sangre will be hosting their annual home tournament the Thunderbird Shootout. First up for Sangre de Cristo is Custer County on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.