Early-season non-conference games and holiday tournaments are for the most part out of the way, and we've now got a read on how area teams stack up on the court in girls basketball.
Here is a look at each BoCoPreps.com-area conference, including the teams to beat, the can't-miss games, and the players to watch as the league races heat up.
5A FRONT RANGE LEAGUE
Led by Lena Jaycox, the league's leading scorer, the young Boulder Panthers (5-2) are off to the hottest start among the BoCoPreps.com area teams and are gaining confidence with every game.
Sitting at 4-3 after its non-conference schedule, defending league champion Monarch can't be counted out. Also at 4-3 are 2012 league runner-up and state champion Legacy and Fairview, which won three out-of-state games at the High Five Classic in California in late November.
Contenders: Mountain Range (7-0), Poudre (7-1), Loveland (7-1), Fossil Ridge (6-2), Boulder (5-2).
Top players: Lena Jaycox, Boulder (22.6 point per game); Sarah Kaufman, Fairview (18.0 ppg); Anna Ernst, Rocky Mountain (21.4 pgg); Raegan Rohn, Monarch (10.9 pgg); Courtney Smith, Legacy.
Top games: Boulder at Fairview (Jan. 19, Feb. 15); Boulder at Monarch (Jan. 8); Legacy at Monarch (Feb. 15); Fairview at Monarch (Feb. 22).
4A NORTHERN LEAGUE
After winning five straight state titles and getting eliminated in last year's quarterfinals, the top-ranked Broomfield Eagles (7-1) hope to stay on top and they're off to a good start.
Also starting strong in the non-conference schedule, the Longmont Trojans (5-1) are making a solid effort to bounce back from a 5-19 season a year ago, though they suffered a blow when twin starters Lacy and Lyndie Haddock moved
Both Centaurus (6-3) and Silver Creek (5-2) look competitive early despite dropping out of the top 10 while Niwot (2-5) has lost three straight games since opening the season 2-2.
Contenders: Broomfield (7-1), Longmont (5-1), Thompson Valley (5-2), Centaurus (6-3), Silver Creek (5-3).
Top players: Callie Kaiser, Broomfield (12.1 ppg); Kathryn Schell (20.0 ppg); Emilie Rembert, Silver Creek (19.5 ppg); Lyndie Puckett, Centaurus (11.0); Brenna Chase, Broomfield (3.3 steals per game).
Top games: Broomfield at Thompson Valley (Feb. 12); Silver Creek at Longmont (Feb. 22); Centaurus at Broomfield (Feb. 19); Centaurus at Silver Creek (Feb.
4A TRI-VALLEY LEAGUE
The Tri-Valley League seems more wide open than in recent memory with defending champion Roosevelt struggling to a 2-6 non-conference mark.
The window is open for emerging teams like Skyline (6-2) and Erie (5-2), which both enter the conference season on promising with streaks.
Windsor (6-3), last year's runner-up, will be competitive again in 2012 and Frederick (4-2) and Mead (4-4) won't be easy wins on the schedule.
Contenders: Skyline (6-2), Erie (5-2), Windsor (6-3), Frederick (4-2), Mead (4-4).
Top players: Makenzie Urban, Frederick (17.5 ppg); Kasey McKrola, Mead (16.6 ppg); Brooke Pemberton, Windsor (16.2 ppg); Amanda Ochoa, Erie (11.9 ppg); Naomi Barron, Skyline (10.5 ppg, 9.5 rebounds per game, 2.3 blocks per game), Alex Dufour (7.0 assists per game, 5.7 spg).
Top games: Erie at Frederick (Feb. 8); Skyline at Mead (Jan. 4); Mead at Erie (Jan. 12); Frederick at Skyline (Feb. 19); Skyline at Windsor (Feb. 5).
3A/2A METRO LEAGUE
To start the conference schedule, both second-ranked Bishop Machebeuf (5-0) and Lutheran (4-0), second in Class 2A, will each bring undefeated records.
Last season's conference runner-up, seventh-ranked Holy Family (5-3) will compete for a league title but will have to catch Machebeuf while fending off Colorado Academy (6-1), Kent Denver (5-2) and Peak to Peak (5-3).
Contenders: Bishop Machebeuf (5-0), Lutheran (4-0), Holy Family (5-3), Colorado Academy (6-1), Kent Denver (5-2), Peak to Peak (5-3).
Top players: Chloe Graves, Kent Denver (20.7 ppg); Aisha May, Bishop Machebeuf (19.2 ppg); Katie Magid, Colorado Academy (17.7 ppg); Michela Blanchard, Holy Family (1.5 bpg); Claudeia Pena, Holy Family (9.9 rpg, 1.0 bpg); Bri Wetmore, Peak to Peak (4.3 spg); Katharine Kia, Peak to Peak (4.1).
Top games: Colorado Academy at Bishop Machebeuf (Feb. 1); Bishop Machebeuf at Holy Family (Jan. 11); Holy Family at Peak to Peak (Jan. 25).
3A/2A PATRIOT LEAGUE
In a conference that includes two of the top teams in Class 3A -- eighth-ranked Sterling and 10th-ranked Valley -- the Lyons Lions are off to a slow start at 1-5. Last season, the Lions won just one conference game.
Contenders: Sterling (5-2), Valley (4-2), Highland (4-2), Estes Park (4-2).
Top players: Sofia Softas, University (22.6 ppg); Amanda Dill, Estes Park (16.0 ppg); Olivia Raspotnik, Lyons (15.7 ppg, 14.8 rpg, 5.0 bpg).
Top games: Sterling at Highland (Jan. 22); Valley at Sterling (Feb. 15); Lyons at Lutheran (Jan. 8); Estes Park at Lyons (Feb. 19).
2A MILE HIGH LEAGUE
Early on, Front Range Christian (4-1), Springfield (5-2) and Heritage Christian (4-2) appear to be the teams to beat in the conference as they are the only teams with winnings non-conference records.
The Alexander Dawson Mustangs (2-3) are off to a decent start unlike Longmont Christian and Nederland, which are a combined 0-10.
Contenders: Front Range Christian (4-1); Springfield (5-2); Heritage Christian (4-2).
Top players: Jerika Schmitt, Denver Christian (16.5 ppg); Fiona Bell, Alexander Dawson (14.4 ppg); Sarah Wallman, Resurrection Christian (13.2 ppg); Lindsey Gallop, Alexander Dawson (12.4 rpg, 2.7 bpg); Nicole Towner, Alexander Dawson (12.2 rpg)
Top games: Front Range Christian at Heritage Christian (Jan. 15); Nederland at Alexander Dawson (Jan. 25); Alexander Dawson at Longmont Christian (Feb. 11).
2A/1A 5280 LEAGUE
Eighth-ranked Gilpin County and Jim Elliot Christian have separated themselves as the two teams to enter the conference season undefeated. After that, Shining Mountain joins Belleview Christian and Rocky Mountain Lutheran in a cluster of one-loss teams.
Contenders: Gilpin County (6-0); Jim Elliot Christian (5-0); Belleview Christian (6-1); Rocky Mountain Lutheran (6-1); Shining Mountain (5-1).
Top players: Alex Quimby, Community Christian (18.5 ppg); Sherry Echelberger, Excelsior (17.9 ppg); Keri Hogan, Jim Elliot (15.2 ppg).
Top games: Gilpin County at Jim Elliot (Feb. 12); Alexander Dawson at Gilpin County (Jan. 8); Gilpin County at Shining Mountain (Feb. 14); Shining Mountain at Longmont Christian (Jan. 8).
FRONT RANGE CHRISTIAN LEAGUE
Faith Baptist is the only team to enter the conference schedule undefeated, trailed by Front Range Baptist (4-2) and defending champion Denver Eagles Christian (1-1).
Contenders: Faith Baptist (3-0); Front Range Baptist (4-2); Denver Eagles Christian (1-1).
Top players: Jordan Ford, Front Range Baptist (10.3 ppg); Hannah Kendall, Front Range Baptist (9.5 ppg).
Top games: Faith Baptist at Front Range Baptist (Feb. 5).
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