Photo by Tamie Meck Post player Taylor Walters pulls down an offensive rebound over Grand Valley’s Wyatt Hurst last Friday night. Walters, a freshman, didn’t expect to make the varsity team this year.Taylor Walters didn't expect to make the Eagles varsity team his freshman year. "I expected I was probably going to be on C team or maybe JV," said the 6-foot-2 post.
"But when I came to practice, I started doing good, and the coach said I earned my spot."
With 14 points, Walters was one of two high scorers in the Eagles' 53-50 win Friday over Grand Valley. He also pulled down four offensive rebounds and a game total of seven rebounds.
"That's an awesome game for a freshman," said head coach Chase Roeber. "He's a rebounding machine right now." Walters has 15 rebounds in two games and has yet to commit more than three fouls in a game.
Walters has played basketball since elementary school and played AAU basketball in middle school. Last year he played for a local team that competed throughout the state. Walters said the only position he doesn't play is point guard. "I try to do everything I can," said Walters, who admits he has a lot to learn.
Walters is one of eight varsity players for Paonia. The Eagles are now 1-1 after a 38-32 season-opener loss to Olathe and a 53-50 win at home Friday over Grand Valley. The Eagles overcame a seven-point first-half deficit for the win.
Josiah Spano made a three-point shot with two minutes left in the first period to give Paonia a five-point lead, and the Cardinals sank two treys in the final minute to lead 12-11 at the buzzer.
Paonia trailed 27-20 at the half with Cardinal Wyatt Hurst scoring 10 of the Cardinals' 14 second-period points.
Paonia had five second-half turnovers and held the Cardinals to 10 points in the third period. They trailed by one at the end of the third period.
Taylor Katzer opened the fourth with a field goal, and Ben Linnell sank a three-pointer to give Paonia the lead. Grand Valley regained the lead with two field goals. Linnell put Paonia back in the lead after taking a steal to the net for a three-point combination.
Walters made two trips to the line, where he was 4-4, giving Paonia a 49-47 lead with less than a minute and a half remaining. A goal by Linnell put Paonia ahead by four with 48 seconds remaining.
Hurst sank a trey to bring the Cardinals to within one, and Linnell was intentionally fouled twice with less than 15 second on the clock, where he was 2-4. Paonia was able to run out the clock for the win.
Katzer made five of the team's 13 steals of the night. Katzer and Linnell ended the night with eight points each. Spano scored 14 points and was 2-4 from the line. Against Olathe, Paonia held a 13-point halftime lead, then watched its lead slowly dissolve. The Eagles scored five second-half points, all in the third period. Pirates Mitchell Carlson and Tanner Vernon each scored four points in the third and Olathe trailed by four going into the final period. Olathe was 6-6 from the line and scored 14 points in the fourth for the win.
Paonia made only 25 percent of its two-point shots, and was 3-11 from the three line; it was 7-11 from the free-throw line.
"When we went (to the locker room) for the half, we counted it as a win when we had the second half to go," said Spano after Friday's win over Grand Valley. "It was like getting punched. You get up and can't remember anything."
With seven points each, Taylor Katzer and Ben Linnell were high scorers for Paonia. Spano contributed six, and Lane Clawson five. Eric Carney had four points for the game.
The Eagles have the week off and will compete on Dec. 21-22 in the First Bank of Colorado Tournament at Delta High School.