After posting a four-game losing streak in December, the Paonia boys stepped up Saturday at their home-opener, overcoming an eight-point halftime deficit and holding off a second-half rally to defeat Meeker, 44-41.
Taylor Walters scored a team-high 19 points, and Josiah Spano scored nine, all from the 3-point line.
With just over three minutes remaining in the game and Paonia trailing by seven, Spano sank a trey and Walters tied the game at 31-31 on a layup.
Meeker called a timeout, and Cowboys lead scorer Jeremy Musgrave returned to the court to commit his fourth foul with just under three minutes remaining in the third period. Cowboy Raul Lopez sank two free throws to give Meeker a 33-31 lead heading into the final period.
Musgrave opened the fourth with a field goal. Eric Carney answered with a goal for Paonia. Walters scored two from the paint, then grabbed a pick-2 to tie the game at 37-37. Paonia took the lead on a trey, and Eric Linnell added a field goal. Enterline scored the final goal for Meeker, and Lopez fouled out with 40 seconds remaining. Meeker forced a turnover with 22 seconds remaining but was unable to capitalize.
On Friday, Spano scored 13 and Walters, Linnell and Jason Sturgis 11 in Paonia's 50-47 win at Rangely. It was the Panthers' first loss of the season. Head coach Chase Roeber had to miss the game, but credited the defense for the win. "From what I know, we really locked up the defense in the end," said Roeber. "Jason Sturgis stepped up and hit a big shot towards the end that gave us the momentum and we just kind of ran with it."
Walters fouled out with three minutes remaining, and freshman Dagan Rienks came off the bench to help hold the Cowboys scoreless in the final minute of play.
As with Saturday's game, "We stayed relaxed and collected late in the game ... Our defense was phenomenal in the second half. That's what we needed was a good defensive win."
Eric Carney is a key to that defense. A three-year varsity senior, Carney specializes in rebounds, blocks, and a lot of action that never makes the stats. This season he is averaging almost five rebounds and four points per game.
"He's just a physical, smart player," said Roeber. "We've got a couple of guys who are doing a better and better job of making players around them look good."
Carney said he's more focused this season, largely because he is a senior. He attended open gyms this summer and said having Walters to practice against, "helps me inside to push people around."
Carney grew up playing basketball with brothers Michael and David who was a starter for the 2007-08 team that placed second at state.
Carney said he's looking forward to the season. "I like my team," said Carney. "They're a lot of fun."
Paonia hosts Soroco (4-2, 1-0) Friday. "I look for Soroco to be tough," said Roeber. They return senior point guard Matt Regan, and 6-foot, 5-inch senior Ryan Jeep, who scored 21 points to defeat Paonia by a point last season and is averaging almost 12 points per game this season.
Paonia travels to Hayden (1-7, 0-1) Saturday for varsity games at 2:30 and 4 p.m.blog comments powered by Disqus