Central girls ready for 5A playoffs

NO. 10 Mountain Range (13-11)  at No. 2 Central (20-3)

Time: 5 tonight, Central High School

Leagues: Central — Southwestern League (10-0); Mountain Range — Front Range (5-7)

Coaches: Central — Todd Dixon, 2nd year; Mountain Range — Chyrisse Domenico, 4th year

Past 10: Central 10-0; Mountain Range 5-5

Leading Scorers: Central — Amy Kame, 25.8 ppg; Mountain Range — Kristen Ward, 13.9 ppg.

Next Game: The winner plays the winner of No. 3 Heritage and No. 6 Pine Creek

Notes: It’s finally here. Central has been waiting patiently for the playoffs to come all season, and the Warriors are itching to get onto the court and begin a championship run. The Warriors enter the playoffs on a 13-game winning streak. Central’s point of pride during the final 13 was its defensive effort, allowing an average of only 38 points per game.

“At this point of the season, it’s hard to practice five days and not play a game,” Central coach Todd Dixon. “We are chomping at the bit to get out there.”

So far everything has gone to plan. But it’s the playoffs, and anything can happen. That was proven on Wednesday night when No. 10 Mountain Range knocked off its first-round opponent, No. 7 Mountain Vista, 44-33. The Mustangs are led by 5-foot-8 Ward, and have size and depth. The big question is, can Mountain Range handle Central’s defensive pressure and bottle up Kame? The answer is probably no.

“We think we’ll see a typical playoff team in a typical playoff atmosphere,” Dixon said.

No. 5 Grand Junction (14-10)  at No. 4 Aurora Central (14-8)

Time: 4 today, Aurora Central High School

Leagues: Grand Junction — Southwestern League (4-6); Aurora Central — Skyline (7-1)

Coaches: Grand Junction — Sam Provenza, 11th year; Aurora Central — Eric Dow, 2nd year

Past 10: Grand Junction 6-4; Aurora Central 7-3

Leading Scorers: Grand Junction — Jamie Derrieux, 14.1 ppg; Aurora Central — Sabrina Jones, 12.5 ppg.

Next Game: The winner plays the winner of No. 9 Fruita Monument and No. 1 Highlands Ranch

Notes: It wasn’t easy, but Grand Junction survived its first round game against Boulder, winning 45-44. But in the state tournament, it doesn’t really matter how a team moves on to the next round, as long as it moves on. The Tigers advance to Aurora Central, a team that’s won 14 games this season, but hasn’t beaten a Class 5A playoff team with a top-10 seed. Despite questions about the Trojans’ strength of schedule, Provenza said the Tigers are taking Aurora Central seriously.

“We aren’t going to take them lightly,” Provenza said. “They are one of the top 16 teams in the state, and we are going to have to step up our game.”

The good news for the Tigers is they won a playoff game with starters Paula Lage and Stephanie Drake having off nights offensively. Grand Junction needs production from Lage and Drake and another big game from leading scorers Derrieux and Fawn Brady.

“We’ve talked a lot about what we need to do to go into that gym and get to where we want to be,” Provenza said.

No. 9 Fruita Monument (11-13)  at No. 1 Highlands Ranch (20-3)

Time: 7 tonight, Highlands Ranch High School

Leagues: Fruita Monument — Southwestern League (3-7); Highlands Ranch — Continental (12-0)

Coaches: Fruita Monument — Dan Schmalz, 3rd year; Highlands Ranch — Caryn Jarocki, 13th year

Past 10: Fruita Monument 5-5; Highlands Ranch 10-0

Leading Scorers: Fruita Monument — Taylor Johnson, 11.9 ppg; Highlands Ranch — Katelyn McDaniel, 14.7 ppg.

Next Game: The winner plays the winner of No. 4 Aurora Central and No. 5 Grand Junction

Notes: Fruita Monument is in a fun position. On Wednesday, the Wildcats earned their first playoff win in 10 years with a 60-55 win over Rocky Mountain. Making it into the second round of the playoffs is new territory, and they plan to enjoy it.

“How do you prepared for one of the best teams in the state,” Fruita Monument coach Dan Schmalz said. “But we played for a half with Monarch, so we have it in us to do it, so as long as we do what we’re suppose to, we’ll be okay.”

The Wildcats have a huge challenge in front of them with the Falcons. Fruita Monument hadn’t won a playoff game since 2000, but the Falcons have won six state championships in that time. Highlands Ranch looks to make it seven this season, led by 6-foot McDaniel, 6-0 Sendy Valles and 5-11 Shanti Smith, who all average in double figures.


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