Paonia girls lose State Basketball to Wray
PUEBLO — Dealing with the agony of defeat is never easy.
That, however, is what the Paonia High School girls basketball team was trying to cope with Saturday night.
The Eagles were outlasted 46-35 by Wray in the Class 2A state championship game at Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Massari Arena.
“This second-place finish is the best finish by a Paonia girls basketball team and our 25 wins is also a school record,” Paonia coach Scott Rienks said. “The girls were so focused on winning that gold ball, that they don’t realize right now what they accomplished. They will, though.”
Wray (26-1) won its seventh girls basketball state title in school history and second in a row.
Wray just missed winning state three years in a row, losing 65-58 in double overtime to Limon in 2007. Prior to Saturday, the Paonia girls basketball team’s best finish was third in 1991.
“The biggest difference in this game is that they (Wray) hit their shots and we didn’t,” Rienks said. “We also made some mistakes that hurt us, but I’m very proud of the way my girls played.
We just came up short against a very good Wray team.”
Christa Loyd paced Wray with 16 points. Loyd’s teammate, Stacy Post, chipped in 10 points. Paonia (25-2) was led by Grayson Pipher’s eight points.
At halftime, Wray held a 19-17 lead and then stepped on the gas, thanks to utilizing a 2-2-1 zone defense that caused fits for Paonia.
“We knew at halftime that we had to play better defensively and really picked up the second half,” Loyd said. “It just feels great to win state. We have 10 seniors on this team and we’ve been playing together since fifth grade. There’s no better way to go out than like this.”
Post powered Wray’s fourth-quarter charge with seven points as Wray pulled away for the win.
“Their defensive pressure really got to us,” Rienks said. “We have a press breaker that we use and we just made some mistakes and some poor passes. Wray also has a lot of experience and I think the big game got to us a little bit.”
During the first quarter, Paonia trailed 10-2 when Loyd nailed a 3-pointer at the 3:01 mark.
Paonia came back in the second and third quarters and was only trailing 28-25 with eight minutes to play.
The Eagles, however, went ice cold offensively in the fourth and were frustrated by Wray’s relentless pressure.
Ultimately, Paonia was forced to foul and Wray converted 9 of 15 free throws in the final quarter.
“Wray’s coach (Dave Reed) made his adjustments at half and we had we also made adjustments for their press,” Rienks said. “We just made too many mistakes and came up short against a very good Wray team.”
CLASS 1A BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP
Caliche 69, Crested Butte 45: In a battle of perfection, the boys from the mountains proved to be no match for those from the plains.
Pressing and trapping all over the floor, Caliche was bigger, quicker and stronger than Crested Butte, rolling to a victory in the boys 1A state championship game in Greeley.
Cody Zink scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half, and fellow senior Craig Debus added 16 to lead Caliche to a 27-0 record and its first title since back-to-back 2A championships in 1999 and 2000.
Only two of Caliche’s 27 victories were by fewer than 15 points.
John Wright, who averaged 34.5 points in the quarterfinals and semifinals, managed only 16 for Crested Butte, which finished the season 26-1. Robbie Holleran led the Titans with 19 points.
Caliche, located in Iliff in northeastern Colorado, led by only 11 early in the third quarter before putting the game out of reach with a 15-3 run.
TRACY RENCK/Special to The Daily Sentinel