CSCS boys seeded behind Manitou by RPI, despite two Lions wins over Mustangs

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Photo - CSCS Coach Mark Engesser talks to team members during their game against St. Mary's Friday, January 22, 2016 at St. Mary's High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
CSCS Coach Mark Engesser talks to team members during their game against St. Mary's Friday, January 22, 2016 at St. Mary's High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Colorado Springs Christian may have gotten the better of Manitou Springs during the boys' basketball season, but you wouldn't know it as the Class 3A brackets were released Sunday.

A pair of wins over the Mustangs was the difference in the Lions finishing atop the 3A Tri-Peaks League and winning the district title.

Yet, because of the Rating Percentage Index that is used to rank postseason teams in Colorado, CSCS (20-2) was awarded third in the bracket, a spot back of Manitou Springs (20-2).

"I've been getting texts all day wondering how that happened," CSCS coach Mark Engesser said.

The brackets appeared less than 12 hours after the Lions' 45-44 overtime win over Manitou Springs in the district finals Saturday night. The victory still wasn't enough for the two-time defending champions to make a claim on either of the top two spots as they finished six-thousandths of point behind the Mustangs and seven-thousandths back of No. 1 Kent Denver.

"Right now it's all based on winning percentage, which isn't the best way," Engesser said, referring to the RPI layout - 25 percent team's winning percentage, 50 percent opponent's win percentage and 25 percent of the winning percentage of the opponents of a team's opponents.

In basketball, however, it does not take into account playing teams in different classifications.

Engesser's gripe is that the Lions played five teams across 5A and 4A - including 5A Fruita Monument and Rampart as well as 4A defending champ Pueblo West. Manitou Springs, meanwhile, faced one team in a higher classification, yet its strength of schedule was deemed greater because of their opponent's win percentage.

When asked about the hullabaloo, Manitou Springs coach Ken Vecchio said he understood it. He just looks at it on a much simpler level.

"They beat us twice," he said. "They were both close games but they beat us."

Vanguard made its first 3A postseason field since moving up from 2A three years ago. The 19th-ranked Coursers (15-7) will face No. 14 Lutheran with host CSCS waiting in the second round.

"We're young," Vanguard coach Joe Wetters said, "we're excited to be here."

The Lions (20-2) are the fourth seed in the 3A girls' bracket after winning league and the district tourney, while the Mustangs (14-8) are 12th.

St. Mary's (19-3) just missed out on one of the eight hosting sites at No. 9. The Pirates started the year 15-0, but ended the district tournament with two straight losses against league foes.

"Our league is strong," St. Mary's coach Mike Burkett said. "I think you could see four teams out of the Tri-Peaks League in the round of eight with (No. 3) Lamar, CSCS, Manitou and us potentially there."

In 2A boys, Ellicott (14-7) won its first district title since 1999 to earn a 10 seed. League-rival Peyton (18-4) is seventh after winning the 2A Black Forest.

In 2A girls, Evangelical Christian Academy (18-4) got one of eight region byes with a five seed after it beat league-champ Ellicott 39-28 in the district championship Saturday.

The Thunderhawks (18-4), at No. 8, will face No. 13 Fowler with hopes of getting a regional final against Simla - the team they defeated to help clinch the Black Forest a week ago.