There's little debate about whether or not Paonia head girls basketball coach Scott Rienks has upped the level of competition in the 2A Western Slope League. Prior to the 2007-08 season, Rienks' first year at Paonia, fast breaks and full-court presses were rarely seen.
By 2010, the year the girls team played to the state championship and a 25-1 record, other teams in the league were having to learn to press just to stay competitive with Paonia.
Fast breaks and presses are now common throughout the state, and the team will continue to use them in its game plan, but this season will start off a little different, said Rienks. The team is trading in its fast-paced game for more discipline and ball control.
A total of 26 players came out for the team. They include senior all-conference guards Carson Pipher and Braiden Clement, and post Taylor Polson and Jazmine Gomez; juniors Brooklynd Erickson, Taylor Plymale, Claire Tracy, Easton Hartigan and Morgan Hartigan; and sophomores Taylor Carsten and Ashley Van Vleet.
While they're still an exciting, fast-paced team, "we're not quite the same team we've had in the past," said Rienks, who since the 2007-08 season has led the program to a 125-21 overall and 55-2 conference record. "We have the speed, but we've changed the philosophy a bit." They will still press and they will still run the ball, "but during the summer we wanted to learn the game a little better. So we started slowing it down. We went from 'shoot the shot within 5 seconds,' to 'make the other team guard us for at least 30 seconds.'"
Benefits include longer time of possession, fewer shots from the 3-point line, more inside shots, and fewer turnovers.
The Eagles opened the season Tuesday night at Olathe (see the Dec. 11 edition for results). Rienks said he and Lady Pirates head coach Paul Althaus have met on numerous times. "He's going to play hard, aggressive man-to-man," said Rienks.
Paonia played Olathe last summer at the CMU camp. "In that win we were pretty patient," said Rienks. "That's what we're going to look for ... not letting their physicality bother us."
Paonia travels to Telluride this Friday and then to Rifle Saturday for non-conference games.
Next week's action has the Lady Eagles playing in the mostly Class 3A Holy Family tournament. Paonia's home opener will be against Meeker set for Jan. 11.blog comments powered by Disqus