Weekly Colorado Preps Primer: Games to watch for Jan. 3-6

Senior center Makena Prey and the No. 2 Golden Demons open Jeffco League play against No. 8 D’Evelyn on Thursday night.

With local prep sports back in action following the mandatory winter break, the following is a look at the top boys and girls basketball games this week in Class 5A and Class 4A, plus insight into a pair of marquee hockey contests. (All rankings and records are up-to-date as of Tuesday.)

BOYS HOOPS

Smoky Hill (7-2) at Grandview (7-1), Thursday 7 p.m.: In the Centennial League opener, after-break momentum is at stake between the No. 3 Buffaloes and the No. 8 Wolves as neither team has lost in Colorado yet. Smoky Hill’s paced by 15.6 points per game from senior forward John Harge, while Grandview junior forward Dayne Prim and the Wolves recently took runner-up at the Tarkanian Classic. Listen to this game live on Post Preps Radio.

George Washington (7-4) at ThunderRidge (10-1), Friday 7 p.m.: This nonconference bout may be a preview of a March playoff battle. The No. 7 Patriots, laden with both veteran and young talent in the form of sophomore guard Devin Carter’s team-leading 10.1 points per game, will undoubtedly encounter a raucous road environment against a No. 5 Grizzlies roster headlined by senior point guard Kaison Hammonds. Listen to this game live on Post Preps Radio.

GIRLS HOOPS

D’Evelyn (7-2) at Golden (8-0), Thursday 6 p.m.: This early yet pivotal Class 4A Jeffco League clash pits the No. 8 Jaguars against the undefeated, No. 2 Demons. D’Evelyn boasts a deep lineup with the likes of senior point guard Angi Reed, senior guard Bailey Marvel and junior center Victoria Szathmary, and figures to match up well against Golden’s inside presence commanded by seniors Makena Prey and Abby Garnett.

Ralston Valley (6-1) at Lakewood (7-2), Thursday 7 p.m.: These two programs have owned the Class 5A Jeffco League over the past decade, so look for the No. 4 Mustangs and No. 5 Tigers to ball like it’s a postseason game. Lakewood must contain the scoring threat posed by Ralston Valley dynamic senior forward Delaynie Byrne, a Minnesota commit, while Mustangs need to do the same against 6-foot-5 forward Camilla Emsbo (Yale).

Fort Collins (4-1) at Standley Lake (4-1), Friday 2:45 p.m., Ice Centre at the Promenade: Both the No. 8 Lambkins and the No. 7 Gators are off to hot starts this winter, and the Gators’ Ryan Iwanski and Dylan Ridley each had two goals in Standley Lake’s grinding 5-4 victory over Fort Collins on Dec. 9. The rematch will likely be just as close, and Fort Collins forward Greg Bilek (6 goals, 7 assists) could be the X-factor.

Regis Jesuit (6-0) at Cherry Creek (5-1), Saturday 3:10 p.m., Family Sports Center: After taking on Denver East on Thursday and Mullen on Friday, the top-ranked Raiders conclude their weekend with another litmus test against the No. 5 Bruins. Regis Jesuit’s stout defense has allowed just five goals this season, but the Raiders encounter a potent Cherry Creek offense paced by Blake Benson and Henry Raabe.

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