Final game big for local teams in terms of playoff seeding

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Central’s Kahler Grandbouche puts one up against Delta Tuesday night at Central high school.

Winning late in the season is crucial to reaching the Class 4A or Class 5A playoffs.

When the seeding committee sits down Sunday afternoon to hash out the 4A and 5A brackets, there are no guarantees of a playoff spot or a high seed. The committee will judge records in the final 10 games of the season, league records, league standings, overall records, head-to-to head, strength of leagues and strength of schedule. The playoff bylaws state no one factor shall be more important than another.

Heading into the final weekend of the season, here is a look at the four Grand Valley schools and how they stack up.

Central Boys

Central has slipped late in the season but should have a playoff spot locked up. It will be the first time the Warriors will be in the playoffs under head coach Phil Cain and after five years of hard work, Cain has his senior-laden team ready for the postseason. Central has one game left against Montrose and can end the season undefeated at home. Although the Warriors are in, they want a first-round home game. With an 18-4 record heading into tonight’s game,

Central could be a candidate for one of the top 16 seeds, which means a first-round bye.

Past 10 games: 8-2

League record: 7-2

League standing: Second

Overall record: 18-4

Head-to-head: Central has had impressive moments this season with winning streaks of nine and seven games, but the Warriors’ four losses this season have been by at least 12 points.

Strength of league: The Southwestern League doesn’t have as much clout as other leagues because it’s a 4A/5A league, but having Grand Junction, Montezuma-Cortez and Montrose all as potential playoff teams helps.

Strength of schedule: Games against George Washington and Chatfield will bode well for Warriors.

Grand Junction Boys

The Tigers nailed down another SWL championship with Tuesday’s 73-43 home victory over Central. The Tigers are picking up steam, and an 8-1 SWL performance has boosted their confidence. Behind Everett Robinson’s 15.7 points per game and Geoff Baldwin’s 15.9 points per game, the Tigers have two offensive threats that will allow them to match up with a lot of teams in the postseason.  Grand Junction finishes its regular season tonight against Fruita Monument.

Past 10 games: 7-3

League record: 8-1

League standing: First

Overall record: 14-7

Head-to-head: Grand Junction has played Front Range teams Fountain-Fort Carson, Thomas Jefferson and Mountain Vista. Although the Tigers lost to all three, taking on good competition never hurts.

Strength of league: If the Tigers can get past Fruita, having only the one league loss to Central will look good.

Strength of schedule: The Tigers were able to make up for losing the Cherry Creek tournament earlier in year by games with Chatfield and Thomas Jefferson.

Fruita Monument Boys

It’s just been one of those years where nothing seems to go right for Dave Fox and the Wildcats. Fruita has always been competitive in the SWL, but has struggled this season, sitting at 1-8 heading into the final game. With all the factors against the Wildcats, it looks as if they might be sitting home this year.

Past 10 games: 1-9

League record: 1-8

League standing: Sixth

Overall record: 5-15

Head-to-head: Although the Wildcats have struggled in league play, they did notch wins against Horizon, Loveland and Dakota Ridge early in the season.

Strength of league: Fruita’s one win in league came against Montrose, and if the Wildcats can knock off Grand Junction in tonight’s game, it would be a satisfying way to end the season.

Strength of schedule: The Wildcats’ best opponents have been Grandview and Fountain-Fort Carson as well as playing in the Warrior Challenge, Ralston Valley Tournament and Hinkley Tournament.

Palisade Boys

There probably haven’t been a lot of teams that began the season 0-12 and made the playoffs, but Palisade looks primed to do just that in Class 4A. The Bulldogs have twice beaten Delta, which is one spot ahead of them in the Western Slope League standings. Palisade has won three straight games heading into tonight’s matchup with Rifle, and if the ’Dogs can end the year at 6-8 in the league and on a four-game winning streak, it would be hard to leave them out of the postseason.

Past 10 games: 5-5

League record: 5-8

League standing: Fifth

Overall record: 5-17

Head-to-head: Losing all nine of its nonleague games won’t help Palisade’s case but having beaten Delta twice as well as playing close games with Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs looks good.

Strength of league: The 4A Western Slope League is strong, with Moffat County, Steamboat and Glenwood all with at least 14 wins.

Strength of schedule: Taking on 5A teams Central, Douglas County and Horizon as well as 3A power Aspen all help the Bulldogs’ cause.

Central Girls

The Warriors have taken care of business in the SWL and positioned themselves for a good seed in the 5A tournament. If the Warriors can defeat Montrose tonight, they will finish with one league loss and a share of the SWL title. Central’s defensive pressure should allow the
Warriors to compete in the playoffs, and like the boys team,  the Central girls look to have a first-round home game with the possibility of a first-round bye.

Past 10 games: 9-1

League record: 8-1

League standing: Second

Overall record: 16-7

Head-to-head: The Warriors have played some top 5A competition this season, ThunderRidge, Grandview and Fort Collins. The Warriors lost all three of those games while trying to get the hang of first-year coach Todd Dixon’s system, so those early losses shouldn’t carry much weight.

Strength of league: Having Montrose, Durango, Grand Junction and Fruita Monument as teams who could all make the playoffs will help for seeding purposes.

Strength of schedule: The Warriors played in three straight tournaments to begin the year, which is not easy to do.

Grand Junction Girls

Coach Sam Provenza said he feels like the Tigers are in a must-win situation tonight against Fruita. Play well and win and he thinks they are in, but a loss might mean the Tigers don’t make the playoffs. The Tigers had a strong four-game winning streak in the middle of the season but struggled down the stretch. Grand Junction played Central tough Tuesday night, and a win over the Wildcats might be enough to get in the playoffs.

Past 10 games: 2-8

League record: 3-6

League standing: Tied for fourth

Overall record: 7-15

Head-to-head: The Tigers’ best nonleague win was by 11 points against Fountain-Fort Carson. Grand Junction has a 51-29 win over Durango on its resume, although the Demons were without standout Katerina Garcia at the time.

Strength of league: Having one of the state’s best 4A teams in Montrose does nothing but boost the SWL.

Strength of schedule: Grand Junction has two tournaments to its credit, the Wildcat Invitational and the Heritage tournament.

Fruita Monument Girls

Fruita is in a similar situation as Grand Junction, where a win tonight will help get the Wildcats into the playoffs for the second straight season. Fruita got in last year with seven wins and this year has played much better, with eight wins and sitting one game below .500 in the SWL. If the Wildcats can make it to 5-5 in league, it would be difficult to leave them out.

Past 10 games: 5-5

League record: 4-5

League standing: Third

Overall record: 8-11

Head-to-head: Fruita pulled out back-to-back close wins over Cortez and Durango. Fruita also has wins against Westminster and a four-point loss to Fairview.

Strength of league: Fruita finished 0-4 against the top two teams in the SWL, losing by 15 points in each contest. The Wildcats have split against the other teams in the league before tonight.

Strength of schedule: The Wildcats played in the Wildcat Invitational, losing to ThunderRidge and Carbon County (Utah). Fruita went 1-2 in the Farmington (N.M.) tournament.

Palisade Girls

One week ago, the Bulldogs were in a good position to nail down a playoff berth, but losses to Eagle Valley and Delta might leave them on the outside looking in. If Palisade defeats Rifle tonight, it might be enough to get the committee to overlook the two losses. But for the Bulldogs, who began the season 0-10, to be in contention for the playoffs says a lot.

Past 10 games: 4-6

League record: 5-8

League standing: Sixth

Overall record: 5-17

Head-to-head: The Bulldogs’ two losses to Eagle Valley and Delta really hurt. If it comes down to it, Eagle Valley could get in over the Bulldogs by virtue of its 6-8 league mark and season sweep of the Bulldogs.

Strength of league: Glenwood Springs, Rifle and Moffat County all have at least 14 wins.

Strength of schedule: The Bulldogs’ early losses might be excused, since Palisade played three Class 5A teams and Montrose twice.


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