Photo by Tamie Meck Paonia guard Chelsy Reed defends VC’s Gracen McGuckin Friday. The Lady Eagles are outscoring their league opponents by an average of almost 45 points per game, which can work against them when playoffs begin in three weeks.It's been a perennial problem with the Lady Eagles in recent years. As the program has gained strength under head coach Scott Rienks, Paonia has dominated the court in league play, and have lost two conference games since the 2007-08 season.
But it's not easy preparing for playoffs when opponents offer little in the way of competition. This season, Paonia is 5-0 in Western Slope League competition after a 70-29 win Friday over Vail Christian.
The bench is getting a lot of court time.
But it's tough to stay focused when the team is ahead by 30 points, said Rienks, whose team has outscored its opponents in league play this season by more than 200 points. And that's with putting the bench, all the way down to the freshmen, on the court for at least a quarter in every game.
Rienks told his team on Friday to "play basketball the right way. Don't gamble just because they're easy."
Despite the lopsided score, seven turnovers for the game (Vail Mountain had at least 40) and scoring 14 points before the Saints even got on the board, they're still making mistakes, said Rienks. "Our second quarter was terrible. I can't just sit back and let them get sloppy, which is easy to do.
"The girls know me well enough to know that I'm not going to let them get away with stupid stuff."
The team had Saturday off and was already looking ahead to Tuesday night's make-up game against Rifle (8-5, 6-3, 4A WSL). The Lady Bears have a point guard who can handle the ball well, a junior shooter named Chante Church, who averages more than 17 points per game, and Joey Kuheim, a solid defensive player who averages seven rebounds and 12 points per game.
The team can't play the way it did Friday and expect to win against a team like Rifle, said Rienks. And with just over two weeks remaining in the season, some tough league games, including a re-match against No. 2 Meeker (7-1, 13-1, No. 3 Hotchkiss (5-1, 10-5) and No. 4 Rangely (10-5, 5-3) lie just ahead.