Fallen Eagles: Defending champion Paonia loses in 2A regional
The Paonia High School girls basketball team had overcome its youth this season by wearing down its opponents.
Sargent may have been the fifth seed from its district, but the Farmers were up to the challenge of facing the defending Class 2A champions.
Sargent handled Paonia’s pressure defense and upset the Eagles 46-35 in the Class 2A Region 5 tournament Friday night at Mesa State College’s Brownson Arena. The Farmers play Lutheran Parker for the Region 5 title at 11 a.m. today at Brownson Arena. The winner advances to the state tournament next weekend in Pueblo.
“They did a good job handling our pressure and hitting the open person,” Paonia coach Scott Rienks said. “I thought we could’ve gotten more turnovers if we were in denial (defense) a little more.
“Our scouting report was not honest. I was told they didn’t transition well and they transitioned well. Everybody in our league has worn down with our up-tempo, but they never wore down.”
Sargent (14-9) found itself playing Paonia (18-4) in regionals after losing its final two regular-season games and its first district playoff game last week.
The Farmers were tied for first place in District 1 going into the final weekend of the regular season.
“We were playing lose-and-you’re-done for a week now,” Sargent coach Stan David said. “I’m really proud of them. They played together.”
Courtney Garoutte led Sargent with 13 points. Taelor Mullins scored 12 and Maddie Miner added nine. Chelsy Reed and Ce’rra Carsten each scored 10 for Paonia.
Sargent shut down the Eagles’ offense, limiting Paonia to six field goals after the first quarter.
“Our help-side defense was the key for tonight,” David said. “They like to drive a lot and our help-side defense was excellent. We recovered well after we helped, so I thought that was the key, and handling their full-court pressure. We didn’t handle it well all the time, but for the most part we got it done.”
The Eagles attempted to press full-court from the start, but it never worked as planned.
Sargent scored two quick layups and hit a 3-pointer to build a 7-2 lead.
Paonia, though, stayed with it, going on a 12-2 run to take a 14-9 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Sargent opened the second quarter with an 8-3 run to tie the game at halftime. The Eagles made their one field goal in the second quarter with 1:43 left.
The Farmers continued to dominate defensively, going on a 12-0 run to open the third quarter and take a 29-17 lead before Reed scored with 1:45 left to end the Eagles’ drought. Sargent led 32-23 after three quarters.
“We couldn’t get our offense going whatsoever,” Rienks said. “That’s one thing I was worried about with our youth. I didn’t know if anyone would step up and shoot the ball. We talked about it this week, but it came back and bit us.”
Paonia cut the lead to six with 5:41 left in the game, but couldn’t get any closer.
Sargent went to the foul line six times the rest of the game, making 8 of 12 free throws to seal the win.
Rienks returns his entire team next season — the Eagles had no seniors on the squad this year.
“The girls are upset, but it’s like I told them, put this one on my shoulders, I didn’t have us prepared for this team,” Rienks said. “The future of our basketball team is still pretty bright. Whatever it takes this summer, the coaches will be there, I’ll be there. We need to get better.”