1A teams from the San Juan Basin League and the Western Slope League square off to see who advances to Regionals at Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum, next Saturday, March 3.
On the girls’ side, the No. 1-ranked Norwood Mavericks (11-0 in league play) have a first-round bye. They will play Friday against the winner of the Nucla v. North Park matchup.
The Ouray Lady Trojans, ranked No. 4 in the SJBL with an 0-11 record, will play at noon on Thursday against the Vail Christian Saints, No. 1 in the WSL with a 7-7 record.
On the boys’ side, SJBL No. 1 Norwood, with a 7-2 league record, play Thursday at 1:30 p.m. against WSL No. 4-ranked North Park (0-11 in league play).
At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the Ouray Trojans (2-7 and No. 2 in SJBL) go up against the No. 3 De Beque Dragons (2-8 in the Western Slope League).
Ouray Athletic Director Bernie Pearce sent this analysis of the 1A contests:
“Here's what I've observed regarding the Norwood and Ouray teams.
“The district tournament represents a new season, one in which everyone starts out 0-0. Granted, a particular team's 0-0 may have more substance than another's, in terms of win/loss momentum going in. Yet the surprising nature of high school sports shoves the door wide open!
“The Norwood girls are an example of a team on a mission. Last year, they lost their [state tournament] first-round contest to eventual state champs, the Simla Cubs, by around seven points, so they are bound and determined to make it into the title game this year. They even have team T-shirts inscribed with the day, date and time of the 1A girls state championship contest, so they are literally wearing their game-hearts on their sleeve.
“The Norwood Maverick boys are a nifty squad with great ball movement and some potent outside shooting that strikes from all locations in the frontcourt. They are quick and surprisingly sturdy defensively by grinding out solid position for rebounds and crisp outlet passes to start the fast break.
“The Ouray Lady Trojans will look to benefit from the good fortune of play-off naiveté and a recently developed ball-control offense to calm their young nerves and allow some latent talent to come alive right when it's needed versus Vail Christian. The script will be: They only need to win one game to advance.
“The Ouray boys have an even match-up against De Beque in their first game, and the tools to turn an early-December-missing-two-starters-on-the-road 12-point defeat into a victory on a neutral court. Look for this one to be physical from the opening tip, and decided by the team with the deepest mental toughness.
“Both of the district champs and runners-up from Saturday's contests in Olathe move on to Regionals, Saturday, March 3. Game times are to be determined. The two representatives from our district square off in cross-bracketed fashion against their counterparts from District No. 8. This time, only the victors advance to the state tournament.”
The bigger 2A schools head south to Cortez for their district tournament. The No. 2-ranked Ridgway boys (8-3 in league play) will face No. 4 Telluride (6-6) on Friday night. Both teams are riding three-game win streaks, though Ridgway did win both the previous encounters between the two this season.
Ridgway’s 2A girls (ranked No. 2 in SJBL at 10-2) also hold a statistical advantage over their semifinal rivals Telluride (No. 3, 8-5). Although the Miners won their only other meeting this year in a close one, 46-43.
The other girls’ semifinal pits No. 6 Dolores (5-5) against No. 4 Ignacio (7-5). Winners will play on Saturday for the district championship. The top three teams from 2A Districts advance to Regionals: the winners go to Durango next weekend; runners-up head to Alamosa; and the third-place finishers travel to Grand Junction. That way, according to Telluride Middle/High School Athletic Director Mike Hughes, “a strong league can send as many as three teams to State. They don’t have to play each other again [and eliminate one another] in Regionals play.”