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Paonia girls still No. 2

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Photo by Eric Goold Paonia's twin Eagles, Kassidy Rapke, (with the ball) and Randi Rapke (3) try to run the offense against Caprock's Natalia Forest (12). Brianna Van Vleet (22) follows the play for Paonia.

Despite losing to Cedaredge at home, the Paonia High School girls' basketball team remained at No. 2 in the 2A state rankings and bounced back from the Bruins loss to post two blowout wins this past week.

Paonia is 16-2 overall and stands at 10-1 in 1A/2A Western Slope League action. The Eagles host Plateau Valley Thursday night in their last regular season home game.

The home loss to Cedaredge was difficult to take for the Eagles, but not the end of the world and the teams will likely see each other again in the postseason.

"We're working hard in practice and getting better in practice," Paonia coach Scott Rienks said. "We still have some work to do on defense and our backside help. We're working on it. I still think we're a pretty good team, so we're okay."

Paonia 63, Rangely 22

The Eagles played strong defense last Friday night, holding the Panthers to single-digit scoring in all four quarters of the game.

Paonia jumped ahead 17-6 after one quarter and were in command at halftime, 36-12.

Four Eagles scored in double digits to pace Paonia: Sophia Anderson (18), Chey Christian (14), Taylor Carsten (12) and Ashley Van Vleet (11).

The only blemish on the Paonia box score was a 7-for-17 mark from the free-throw stripe.

"We talked about it and we practice free throws," Rienks said. "We talked in practice this week about changing our routines up and doing things a little bit different than we have been, because some of us are rushing our shots and not taking our time on it, so yeah, it's a concern."

Paonia 69, Caprock 19

Paonia handled its business against the league's other Eagles. Caprock Academy is a charter school in Grand Junction that is playing its second year of varsity competition.

Rienks was able to go to the bench early and often as Paonia started strong. With the score what it was, some of the Eagles were lacking energy so the coaches got creative in the third quarter.

After a score, Paonia's girls would sprint down the floor to the opposite baseline and then run back to half court and set up their defense. On every Caprock possession.

"Coach (Brent) McRae and I were sitting on the sideline and we just didn't feel like we were playing with as much energy as we needed to," Rienks said. "So we just wanted them to understand to get back on defense and do what they're supposed to do. They did it and laughed and joked and had fun with it, so it's good."

Paonia plays its final game of the regular season Thursday night at home against Plateau Valley.

The Eagles will then host District quarterfinals on Feb. 23.

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