When the three-point shots are falling with ease, points add up quickly. That's the situation the Paonia boys found themselves in Friday in a need-to-win match against visiting Vail Christian. Only it was their opponent calling the shots.
The Eagles were coming off of a disappointing 56-44 loss at Grand Valley. Half the team was sick, said head coach Chase Roeber, and were physically unable to give it their all. But on Friday they were trailing by 11 in the third period against the Saints. Roeber said he made a few adjustments, players stepped up, and the team came back to defeat the Saints, 63-56.
"We needed that," said Roeber.
The Eagles were unable to gain momentum early in the game, leaving them trailing, 26-35, at the half following a string of three-pointers by Saints juniors Sebastian Moritz and Brian Trujillo. The Vail duo combined for 30 points in threes for the game.
Paonia was down 44-33 early in the third. At that point, said Roeber, he called for a few small adjustments. The points piled up in the third period for senior post Dagan Rienks. Colby Simpson scored on two consecutive drives inside to put Paonia up, 46-48, with under a minute left in the third.
The Saints surged back in the fourth, gaining a two-point lead. Senior Tristan Mautz came through with two consecutive goals and Slater Podgorny scored one of his two goals for the game to put Paonia ahead with under two minutes left in the game.
Rienks scored a game-high 24 points in the win, Mautz scored a season-high 16 points, and Simpson contributed three three-pointers and 14 total points.
Paonia traveled to De Beque Saturday, where it pulled off an 87-43 win. The Eagles were 12-2 overall, 7-0 and in first place in 2A District 5 standings heading into Tuesday night's game against No. 3 Vail Mountain (8-3, 7-2).
The Lady Eagles remain undefeated and in first place in 2A District 5 standings after winning three games last week. On Tuesday senior Brianna Van Vleet scored 14 points in Paonia's 34-44 win over the Cardinals at Grand Valley High School.
Friday's 54-40 home win over Vail Christian (7-6 overall, 3-3 2A/1A WSL) was a little closer than the final score indicated. The team was also without seniors Emily Pieper and point guard Sophia Anderson, who scored a combined average of 27 points per game.
On Saturday the Eagles overwhelmed the 1A De Beque Dragons for a 69-25 win.
This week Paonia heads north to Waldon to face North Park Friday and West Grand Saturday. West Grand (11-2, 4-1) is currently third in district standings. The Mustangs are a team heavy on seniors, including 5'9" Peyton Bodemann, who averages more than 13 points, 10 rebounds and four steals per game.
Paonia's final regular-season home game will be played against Meeker on Feb. 10. All seniors will be recognized ahead of the games. The Meeker boys are currently 7-0 and in second place in league play, and the girls are in third with a 4-1 league record.