Soaring: Reed, Rienks team up to give Paonia first state title
PUEBLO — History was slipping away for the Paonia High School girls basketball team, and then Jordyn Rienks and Johanna Reed grabbed it by the throat.
Rienks and Reed combined to score seven points in the final 90 seconds Saturday night, vaulting the Eagles to a 43-39 win over Akron in the Class 2A state championship game at Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Massari Arena.
This was Paonia’s first state basketball championship — boys or girls — in school history.
“This was just a special group of girls and when they needed come through in a close game they did,” said Paonia coach Scott Rienks, who is Jordyn’s father. “They didn’t let the pressure get to them and this is just a very sweet victory.”
The Eagles, who finished the season with a 25-1 record, lost to Wray 46-35 in last year’s state final. Akron, which has only one senior on its squad, capped its season at 21-5.
“We were ahead by eight with less than four minutes to play and they stepped up their man-to-man defense and just wore us down,” Akron coach Rick Agan said. “They created some turnovers and the ball bounced their way at the end. We wanted to win, but I’m very proud of my girls because no one expected us to even be here.”
When Rochelle Boyce, who had a game-high 19 points, made two free throws at the 3:49 mark of the fourth quarter, Akron went up 36-28. Paonia countered with a frantic run and took a 39-38 lead when Jordyn Rienks converted a three-point play.
“I knew we weren’t going to lose this game,” said Jordyn, who tied Reed for the team-high with 15 points. “I had trust in my team and when I made that (inside) it was just an instinct play.”
After Akron’s Sydney Clarkson missed a jumper in the lane with 53 seconds left, Paonia took possession and Reed was fouled by Akron’s Sidney Merrill with 33.3 seconds remaining.
With her team up by one, Reed made one of two free throws, giving Paonia a 40-38 lead.
Boyce was fouled on Akron’s next possession, but she made only one of two shots from the line, cutting the deficit to 40-39 with 30.8 seconds on the clock. Akron immediately forced a turnover, but Reed returned the favor with a steal of her own, and she was fouled at 14.3 seconds. This time Reed made both her free throws, putting Paonia up 42-39.
“I have not been shooting free throws very well lately,” Reed said. “But, I just blocked everything out and pretended like I was in the gym by myself and it was a relief when I made both of them.”
Clarkson tried to tie the game with a 3-pointer moments later, but it was off the mark and Rienks snared the rebound and was fouled. Rienks made her first free throw with 3.7 seconds left to seal the win.
“This is an amazing feeling,” Jordyn said. “The eight seniors on this team have been dreaming about winning state since we were like 2 years old and it finally came true.”
Coach Rienks praised his squad for its resolve.
“We have not been in a lot of close games this year and a lot of people thought we could not come back if we got behind,” Rienks said. “My girls showed what they’re made of by winning this game. This really means a lot for our school.”
Although Paonia made only 13 of 28 free throws, Reed converted six of seven to help put this season in the record books for the Eagles.
“This is just an amazing feeling to be state champs,” Reed said.