As expected, the top girls and boys basketball teams in the South-Central League battled their way through a successful preseason.
On the girls side, defending Class 4A state champion South lost only once in eight outings as head coach Shannan Lane attempts to find the right mixture. The Colts’ lone loss came to a team from North Dakota in the Cheyenne, Wyo., Tournament.
Pueblo West stayed hot on South’s heels with a 6-1 record, while East enters the new year at 5-2 and Pueblo County is at 8-4.
The Colts have been led by senior Shannon Patterson, who has been tearing up opponents by scoring 24.7 points a game. Patterson also leads the team in rebounds per game at 7.5 and is second in assists at 3.0 per contest. Jaylyn Duran is the only other player in double figures at 12.9.
The Cyclones have a one-girl wrecking crew in junior Haley Simental, who is averaging 19.3 points a game and has been dominant at times.
“We know a lot of teams are going to focus on Haley and try and shut her down,” Pueblo West coach Gil Lucero said. “Our other girls have to be ready to step up. We’ve seen improvement from some of the other girls.
“I like where we’re at defensively. We’re in a good spot and held some teams in the 30s. That’s an area we’ve kept improving.”
Canon City (3-4) and Central (0-9) round out the league teams, who will play a couple more nonleague contests before entering the S-CL season in early January.
On the boys side, East is off to a 9-2 start, having won four in a row before the Christmas break, including a clean sweep of three teams in the annual East Coaches Classic.
South had similar success in the East classic, winning all three games to improve to 6-2. Central enters the second half of the season at 6-4, while Canon City and Pueblo West are 4-4 and Pueblo County is 0-10.
The Eagles are led by their own Big Three — Dylan Gavin, TJ Gradisar and Jimmy Valdez. Gavin is averaging 19.4 points a game, with Gradisar at 13.5 and Valdez at 11.7.
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