Carsten leads Paonia girls into 2A semifinals

PUEBLO — Not often does a coach try to get a player to be selfish, but that’s what Paonia’s Scott Rienks has dealt with this season.

Ce’rra Carsten made her coach proud Thursday.

“This whole team is all about the team, so she’s looking to feed somebody else before she’s looking for herself,” Rienks said after the top-seeded Eagles pulled away for a 49-39 win over Del Norte in the first round of the girls Class 2A state basketball tournament. “She’s unselfish.”

The Eagles made sure the junior got the ball in the fourth quarter and she went 8 for 10 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes.

Lutheran beat Vanguard 55-45 and plays the Eagles in the 4 p.m. semifinal game today at the Colorado State Fair Events Center.

“Sometimes she doesn’t do as much as I think she can do,” Rienks said of Carsten, one of eight Eagles averaging between five and 10 points. “Sometimes I think she holds herself back, but today in the fourth quarter when I needed it, she stepped up.”

“I want (the ball) to be in my hands at the end of the game because I can step up for my team,” Carsten said before deflecting credit to her teammates.

“My teammates make me a better person, make me a better basketball player, a better shooter, a better defensive player, so I couldn’t do it without them.

“In practice, I mean, I’d rather make the perfect pass than make the perfect shot. I’d rather have my teammates have the glory than me.”

After the Eagles slowly built their lead much of the game, the Tigers went on a 10-0 run that spanned most of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth.

Rienks said the run was his fault — he took the Eagles out of their defensive scheme that had been working for much of the game.

Tied at 28-28 early in the fourth, Carson Pipher and Jessica Altman converted to give the Eagles a bit of breathing room.

After trading baskets for the next few minutes, Carsten’s clutch free-throw shooting, along with Altman’s 3-for-4 free-throw performance, pushed the Eagles to the semifinals.

“That’s why we were designed to get the ball into (Carsten’s) hand because her and (Abby Campbell) are probably my best free-throw shooters,” Rienks said. “That’s why we wanted to get the ball to her because she got hot.”

All game long, the Eagles dominated on the offensive glass, giving themselves 26 second-chance opportunities and converting 20 points on their 10 makes. Del Norte went only 3 for 15 on their extra possessions.

Carsten and Del Norte’s Molly McPortland shared game-high honors with 14 points. Pipher scored eight for Paonia and Campbell added seven. The Tigers’ Lindsay Mosby scored nine.

“It was big getting over the first-day jitters,” Rienks said. “I thought we came out with great intensity. ... I thought we were a little too nervous and doing things that were uncharacteristic.”


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