Paonia's Eagles kept a stranglehold on 2A District 5's top spot with a solid 61-45 win against Rangely on Feb. 17 and will host a first-round playoff game on Wednesday (Feb. 22).
Last Friday's game, played in Rangely, wasn't in doubt after the conclusion of the first half. Paonia was comfortably ahead 38-23 heading to its locker room after the first 16 minutes of play. A 26-17 second period put a stamp on the Eagles' signature style of play.
Rangely made the most of playing against the Eagles' bench but could not gain ground in a 23-22 second half for Paonia.
The Eagles received double-digit scoring from four players. Emily Pieper's 14 points led the way with Mckenna Hartigan and Sophia Anderson adding 12 counters and Brittany Kendall finishing with 11 points.
Rangely's Katelyn Brown was the game's leading scorer with her 15 points. Teammate Lindzey Thacker was good for 10 points.
Pieper also led Paonia with four steals and three assists and Anderson had four steals.
Paonia head coach Scott Rienks is more relaxed in his thinking about the Eagles' style of play. "The girls are starting to play more consistently and are getting healthy."
Entering this week's tournament play Rienks has some concern about the No. 2 seed, Soroco. "They like to shoot the ball from the 3-point line, but we cannot overlook anyone this time of year ... so we'll watch film from earlier games and get our game plans ready."
Paonia is looking at facing either Hotchkiss or Plateau Valley on Wednesday (Feb. 22) in a 5:30 p.m. game. The winner of that game faces either Vail Christian or Rangely on Friday in De Beque at 3 p.m. The winner of Friday's game earns a berth in Saturday's championship game.