Paonia rallies in final 5 minutes to advance in 2A
PUEBLO — Dreams of winning state were slowly vanishing for the Paonia High School girls basketball team late Thursday night.
With just more than five minutes to play, the No. 2-seeded Eagles were committing turnover after turnover and were trailing No. 7 seed Merino 44-38.
“We knew we were going to get tested by Merino and that’s what happened,” Paonia coach
Scott Rienks said. “Fortunately, the girls never quit battling.”
The Eagles came soaring back and rallied to win, thanks to Johanna Reed and Jordyn Rienks, the coach’s daughter.
Reed made two free throws and Rienks one in the final 38.8 seconds, vaulting the Eagles to the 53-50 victory in a Class 2A state quarterfinal game late Thursday night at Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Massari Arena.
“When the girls stepped on the court (Thursday), they never had a doubt that wouldn’t win,” Scott Rienks said. “That belief in themselves in why we won this game.”
• Paonia (24-1) collides with Hayden (22-3) at 8:30 tonight. Paonia defeated Hayden 54-49 on Jan. 23. That was one of five games in a row that Reed missed with a left ankle injury.
Jordyn Rienks, who had a team-high 12 points, made her first free throw with nine seconds left, but missed her second. Merino rushed frantically up the court and Emily Owens caught a pass and then dribbled back behind the 3-point line and launched her shot from the right corner. The ball bounced off the corner of the backboard and fell to the ground as time expired.
“I went rushing after (Owens),” Jordyn Rienks said. “I heard her coach yelling at her to step behind the (3-point) line I knew she wasn’t going to make that shot. It was big relief when the ball didn’t go in.”
Brittany Venard made back-to-back buckets for the Eagles, the last one tying the game 44-44. Paonia took the lead 48-46 on Grayson Pipher’s breakaway basket with 1:58 left and Johanna Reed made a jumper with 1:14 on the clock to push Paonia ahead 50-46. Reed and Rienks then combined to make those three free throws in the waning seconds to give the Eagles the win.
“I was glad I was able to come through my team,” Reed said.
Meeker 54, Burlington 50: Janae Kindall and Marki Cook scored 20 and 19 points, respectively, as the Cowboys held on to upend Burlington .
“Fortunately, the girls were able to make enough shots and free throws to get this victory,” Meeker coach Hallie Blunt said. “This was a big, big win for us.”
Meeker (19-6) won its first state girls basketball game since 1995. That year the Cowboys won the Class 3A state championship. Blunt was a guard on that title-winning squad.
Kindall put Meeker up 47-37 with an inside bucket at the 6:31 mark of the fourth quarter.
• Hayden 41, Sanford 30: Delanie VeDepo made six of six free throws in the fourth quarter, leading the Tigers past the Indians.
“Free throws are crucial in a game like this and we made ours,” first-year Hayden coach Eric Hamilton said. “This was a great win for us.”
Hayden (22-3) made 12 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter alone. Holli Salazar and Kylee
Sweetser paced the Tigers with nine points each.
• This is rarified air for Meeker.
When Mitch Jacob made one free with three seconds left, the Cowboys secured a 47-43 win over Sanford in a Class 2A state quarterfinal game at Massari Arena.
This was Meeker’s first first-round win at a state basketball tournament since 1967, when the Cowboys took fourth.
“They called that timeout after I missed that first free throw (with three seconds left), but that didn’t bother me at all,” said Jacob, who finished with 11 points. “I knew I would make that second free throw. This is just a huge win for us.”
Meeker (24-1) trailed 38-37 when Sanford’s Kenneth Reynolds made a jumper in the lane with 3:24 left.
The Cowboys responded with an 8-0 run, taking a 45-38 lead after Brian Crowe made one free throw with 34.8 ticks remaining. Crowe had a team-best 13 points.
Reynold kept Sanford’s hopes alive with a bucket with 4.2 seconds left to cut the deficit to 46-43, but then Jacobs sealed the Cowboys’ win with his free throw moments later.
“We were a little bit tight,” Meeker coach Klark Kindler said. “The shots we usually make weren’t falling and that was the best defensive team that we’ve played all year. Fortunately, our defense was able to hold them down and we made enough shots to win.”
Special to The Daily Sentinel