Paonia power: Eagles capture regional title
Johanna Reed could hardly contain her excitement Saturday as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Paonia’s 67-35 win over Hoehne in the girls Class 2A Region 5 championship at Brownson Arena.
“I’m excited,” Reed said. “We always go into a game expecting to win, so we didn’t expect anything less. (We’re) just excited we got that game over with and we’re on our way to state now.”
When it came to winning, Paonia got it done quickly. Within the first four minutes, the Eagles had a 14-2 lead behind the shooting of Reed, Shelby Campbell and Grayson Pipher.
Kendra Hinton added four points off the bench to give the Eagles a 20-7 lead going into the second quarter.
“That was more like we play,” said Paonia coach Scott Rienks, who credited some of the team’s play with their experience in prior tournaments.
“We knew what we had to do. The girls came out fired up and cut loose. ... They’ve been through it, they’ve seen it before, so they came out pretty relaxed.”
Reed finished with 17 points and Pipher and Jordyn Rienks added 11 each.
Paonia also got strong play from Leslie Trujillo, who had six points and kept defensive pressure on all game.
“She’s so good on defense and causes so many problems,” Scott Rienks said.
Jordan East led Hoehne with 11 points.
The win puts Paonia into the state tournament for the fourth straight year, with the team having done progressively better each year.
After losing in the state championship game last year, Scott Rienks tried to avoid bringing up the state tournament.
“No matter what, today really is the first day I’ve spoken about state,” he said.
“We were going to talk about our league, we were going to talk about districts and all that, but we weren’t going to talk about state because that was the end result of what we needed to do first.”
Hayden used size to its advantage, beating John Mall 65-35 in the Class 2A Region 5 championship game.
Much to the delight of coach Mike Luppes, the Tigers got behind post players Murphy Smartt and Rene Valdez to take control of the game.
“We’ve been way too content taking that outside shot,” Luppes said. “We’ve got some good people inside to go to there and we’re getting more and more faith in that ... and that’s a real big key for us, playing the offense inside-out.”
The two teams went shot-for-shot in the first quarter, with Hayden leading 11-10. In the second quarter Hayden took control, outscoring the Panthers 19-10.
John Mall cut the lead to six points when Jacob Wiggins hit two 3-pointers to start the second half.
However, Valdez took over inside and Hayden pushed the lead to 14.
Ben Williams led Hayden with 16 points and Graig Medvesk had 12.
Wiggins led John Mall with 12 and Charlie Whitehead had 8.
The Class 2A state tournaments are this weekend at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
In the Class 3A regional tournament in Eaton, the Coal Ridge girls basketball team defied the odds for the second time in two days with a 50-38 win over Salida.
The Titans, who were seeded 27th in the 32-team bracket, beat No. 6 Eaton on Friday.
Their opponent in the Great Eight this weekend in Fort Collins is Olathe (24-0), which beat Classical Academy 47-40.
In Class 3A boys regionals, Aspen beat Yuma 60-29 to move to the Great Eight. Hotchkiss lost 59-57 to Manitou Springs.