The end of January is approaching quickly and the early forms of what playoff pictures could look like in Colorado prep basketball's five classifications are beginning to take shape.
With both 5A and 4A playing 48-team brackets, league champions will earn automatic playoff berths and the remaining teams will be selected based on the final RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) standings. Most teams are nearly halfway through their schedules and the initial RPI standings were released on Tuesday. Particularly in Class 4A, a number of BoCoPreps.com area teams are already positioning themselves well for the postseason.
Leading the way is a cross-town rivalry between Silver Creek and Longmont that features two of the highest-ranked and highest-rated team in the state. These teams' matching pedigrees were on full display on Tuesday night when Longmont edged Silver Creek, 66-64.
"You know, it's been an amazing rivalry over the course of the years and that's very representative of the time and effort we've both put into our programs," Silver Creek head coach Bob Banning said. "They are two great programs with great kids and that game was very indicative of our rankings."
As of Jan. 18, Silver Creek (9-2, 2-2 Northern) sat fourth in the RPI standings while Longmont (9-1, 5-0 Northern) trailed just behind the Raptors in fifth. The early favorites to claim the automatic bid out of the Northern League, along with Thompson Valley (10-3, 4-1 Northern) and Mountain View (9-5, 3-2 Northern), these two teams will play again on Feb. 8 at Longmont in a game that could decide the conference title.
In the 4A Tri-Valley League, Mead (9-5, 5-0 Tri-Valley) and Holy Family (8-6, 4-1 Tri-Valley) currently are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the league standings. The Holy Family Tigers, who are 29th in the RPI, will host the Mavericks, who have 4A's 14th best RPI score at this point, in the first chapter of their home-and-away league series on Friday.
Also in the Tri-Valley, the Erie Tigers (7-6, 2-3 Tri-Valley) and Skyline Falcons (5-7, 0-5 Tri-Valley) are also in the early top 48 at 39th and 48th, respectively.
In Class 5A, the Broomfield Eagles (9-5, 2-1 Front Range) sit 14th in the RPI standings as of Thursday and continue to gain confidence as they hit the meat of their conference schedule.
"It feels great to be in the top 16 and hopefully we can keep winning games and stay there," Eagles head coach Terrence Dunn said. "I think we really control our own destiny in a lot of ways. We've got some big games coming up and I think they're games that we can win. I think we have a good chance of winning the league championships this year."
Front Range League teams Fairview (29th), Boulder (32nd) and Legacy (47th) would also be in the bracket based on their RPI score if the season ended today.
Jefferson Academy is 38th in the 3A standings. Twin Peaks Charter is 27th in 2A, Dawson School is 32nd and Lyons is 47th.
In the state's smallest classification, a pair of local teams in sixth-place Longmont Christian and 11th-place Shining Mountain have put themselves in strong positions through the first month and a half of the season.