The difference: John Mall’s solid third quarter plagues Paonia

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Paonia’s Taylor Bradford, left, looks to pass on Friday night as John Mall guard Jacob Wiggins defends during the Eagles’ loss to the Panthers in the Class 2A regional playoffs.



In a close game, the third quarter usually makes the difference.

It was the difference for John Mall in Friday’s Class 2A Region 5 semifinal game against Paonia at Brownson Arena.

Leading by only two at the half, John Mall outscored the Eagles 17-8 in the third quarter to build an 11-point lead that Paonia couldn’t overcome in a 58-51 loss.

“That’s been our downfall all year,” Paonia coach Steve Swartzendruber said of the third quarter. “I hate to say it, but it has been.”

In the quarter, the Panthers’ defense caused Paonia all kinds of shooting woes, and John Mall’s Charlie Whitehead scored nine of his team-leading 16 points in the second half.

“He’s been like that all year,” John Mall coach David Harriman said. “I think he’s unstoppable in the post with his jumping ability, and we tried to take advantage of that in the third quarter.”

Whitehead also contributed defensively, blocking shots and keeping players from getting open looks.

After trailing by two after the first quarter, the Panthers were able to come back largely because of sophomore Jacob Wiggins.

Wiggins scored 11 of John Mall’s 13 points in the second quarter giving the Panthers a two-point lead.

“That’s what our team is based on,” Wiggins said. “If one of us isn’t hitting, we all pick it up.”

Wiggins finished with 15 points, freshman Dylan Tenorio had 14 and senior Steven Rodriguez finished with 13.

Paonia got 12 points from Noah Kropp and 11 from Adrian Penny.

John Mall plays Hayden, a 58-33 winner over Longmont Christian, in today’s regional championship at 12:30. Murphy Smartt scored 18 points for Hayden and Graig Medvesk added 17.

GIRLS

The Paonia girls got off to a slower start than they wanted to, but ultimately found the right tempo, beating Nederland 64-28 at Brownson Arena.

“We know we sometimes have slow starts,” Paonia senior Grayson Pipher said. “We just know we’ve got to pull it together and get it going.

The Eagles struggled to find an early rhythm and only led by five points at the end of the first quarter.

Paonia, though, found its stride, outscoring the Panthers 42-14 in the middle quarters.

“The third quarter we got it going,” Paonia coach Scott Rienks said.

Every player on Paonia’s roster got into the game and scored at least one point.

“It’s virtually impossible to D up someone who is shooting that good,” Nederland coach Monte Miles said. “You’re always going to leave someone open and they seem to have no weak link out there.”

Nederland senior Amy Wenzel finished with 16 points, scoring all but two of the Panthers’ 14 first-half points.

Jordyn Rienks finished with 12 points for the Eagles and Pipher and Johanna Reed had 10 each.

The Eagles play Hoehne at 11 this morning for the regional championship. Hoehne defeated Hayden 59-52 in the other semifinal game.


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