The Division I boys and girls basketball races heat up again over the next week.

Here’s a look at where the contenders stand:

Boys Defending champion Patch has won five straight games since openings its season with a loss to Kaiserslautern. The Panthers also claimed victory in their own Stuttgart Holiday Tournament, further boosting their reigning-champ confidence level.

Vilseck has made beating Patch in the teams’ Feb. 14-15 doubleheader a top priority. Both teams will have to settle for Division II opposition until that final-weekend showdown.

While that face-off will have to wait, that’s not the case for Ramstein and Wiesbaden.

The one-loss Royals and unbeaten Warriors square off in Wiesbaden on Saturday in a clash of two teams with very legitimate title hopes.

Ramstein has been challenged just once this season, splitting a doubleheader with Lakenheath before the holiday break. The Warriors were tested by Kaiserslautern and Vilseck prior to the break.

Lakenheath has seen its only Division I competition of the regular season, and will have to hone its game against non-DODDS and lower-division opponents before the tournament. Kaiserslautern is off this weekend, but faces both Ramstein and Wiesbaden before season’s end.

Girls Wiesbaden’s girls, like the Warrior boys, stand as the only remaining unbeaten team in Division I. Their unbeaten start includes a Dec. 7 win over defending champion Kaiserslautern, a measure of redemption from the Raiders’ win in last year’s European title game.

Ramstein, with a 7-1 record that matches that of the Royal boys, would love to see that spoiled Saturday. The Royals’ only blemish stems from – in another mirror-image of the Ramstein boys’ season – a doubleheader split with Lakenheath.

The Lancers, who narrowly missed a berth in the title game last year, own a middling 4-3 record when including games against non-DODDS opponents. But the dangerous team should be a factor when the Division I tournament begins Feb. 19.

Eastern rivals Vilseck and Patch are playing on the fringes of contention and won’t face Division I competition until they meet Feb. 14 and 15. The Panthers in particular should be considered a sleeper, however, having lost to Kaiserslautern by a combined six points in December.

The idle Raiders will watch from afar as teams position themselves for a run at their title next month.

Twitter: @broomestripes

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