Defense leads Paonia into Class 2A Region 5 final
The Paonia High School girls basketball team might have an off night offensively, but good luck catching the Eagles having a bad defensive night.
In the semifinals of the Region 5 tournament at Mesa State College, No. 1 seed Paonia held No. 4 seed Dayspring Christian of Greeley to seven first-half points on its way to a 48-17 rout.
“When you only give up seven points in the first half, you are doing something right,” Paonia coach Scott Rienks said. “But offensively, we couldn’t get into sync. We had open looks but we were missing the right passes or missing the shots. We have to do a better job of that.”
Although Paonia had its offensive struggles, managing only 22 first-half points, the Eagles kept Dayspring from putting any offense together. In the first half, all of Dayspring’s points came off free throws. Dayspring didn’t notch a field goal until early in the third quarter.
“We didn’t handle the pressure very well,” Dayspring Christian coach Dennis Steele said.
“We have done a good job handling the press all year but tonight, for whatever reason, we
felt the pressure.”
Paonia’s full-court press caused Dayspring into two 10-second violations, along with numerous turnovers. Rienks said the Eagles are a confident defensive team that likes to be aggressive.
“Our philosophy right now is defensively, we can get after everybody,” Rienks said. “I always tell the girls before games that offense can have a bad night, but defense never has a bad night.”
Paonia led 22-7 at halftime and kept the pressure on in the second half, outscoring
Dayspring 26-10. Paonia’s 10-player rotation wore Dayspring out and most of the Eagles’ late baskets came uncontested.
“Even when we were never pulling away offensively, we knew once we got into the fourth quarter they would get tired,” Rienks said. “We felt we got after them defensively but we have to do a better job scoring early.”
Tory Miller led Dayspring with seven points and Kassi Keeney added four.
Paonia was led by Jami Reed’s 13 points and Jordyn Rienks’ nine. Grayson Pipher and Leslie Trujillo didn’t contribute much to the offensive side of things but were both crucial to the Eagles’ defensive success.
“Grayson played fantastic defensively,” Rienks said. “She caused so many problems for them in the first half.”
Paonia also controlled the boards, outrebounding Dayspring 29-17.
The Eagles advance to face Western Slope League rival Rangely in today’s final at 1 p.m.
“Rangely is well-coached,” Rienks said. “Where we have the potential to hurt them is we are deeper then they are.”
Rangely 47, Fountain valley 45
The Panthers took a 28-17 halftime lead over the No. 2-seeded Danes and held on despite a frantic comeback. Rangely was led by Victoria Phelan, who finished with 11 points.
Marie Morton and Audrey Hogan added 10 points each. Emy Hanna led Fountain Valley with 15 points and Ashley Ban added 12.
Rangely faces No. 1 seed Paonia in the championship. The Panthers are 0-2 against the Eagles this season with the most recent loss coming in the District 5 tournament, 51-29.