At Paonia High School's basketball awards ceremony last week it's an understatement to say that there was a lot to celebrate. The most notable was the girls' Class 2A state championship. Not only was it the second basketball team to win the state title, with a 25-0 record, it became the first team in school history to play a perfect season. "To be undefeated in high school in any sport is hard to do," said head coach Scott Rienks. In his 24 years, "I've never coached an undefeated basketball team before."
This is the fourth time Rienks has been named coach of the year by CHSAA.
Rienks received the honor twice as boys head coach at De Beque High School in 1997, and in 1998 when the Dragons won the 1A state title; and in 2010 when he led the Paonia girls to their first state basketball title. That year his daughter Jordyn was named 2A Player of the Year.
Rienks was also selected by the Colorado High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) to coach a team at the annual All-State Games this June.
Point guard Sophia Anderson, who signed to play basketball at Colorado Mesa University, was named 2A player of the year,. Anderson was also selected to play on the all-state team.
In thanking everyone, Rienks said games didn't start without their biggest followers, Gary Handschumacher, Joe McNally and Gil Credeur.
Credeur, who retired in Paonia, said that when he moved here two and a half years ago he discovered an amazing community at the school. "I knew I had to be a part of it," he said. "These kids are the future and we should invest in them."
The boys team posted a 22-4 record and finished fourth in the state. "The character and competitiveness that these guys played with was pretty phenomenal," said head coach Chase Roeber. Their accomplishments this season was among the best in school history. "Making the final four is nothing to scoff at." Roeber was also selected to coach in the CHSCA games.
Dagan Rienks was named to the CHSAA all-state first team, and he and Colby Simpson were selected to play in the CHSCA all-state games.
Both players ended their careers with more than 1,000 points. Anderson, who played her first two years at Hoehne, scored almost 400 points this year alone, and Rienks was high scorer in Class 2A this season with 563 points and scored 1,232 points in his last three seasons.
Also of note, basketball player Trevor Smith was named to the CHSCA all-state football team, and starters Emily Pieper and McKenna Hartigan were invited to play at the CHSCA all-state volleyball games.
After the awards were announced, the girls team gave coaches John Blair and Brent McRae gifts, and presented Rienks with a framed image of the school mascot.
Credeur said that being a Paonia follower is an honor. He donated the image, which was made by Heather Johnson to show support for the basketball teams during playoffs.
Credeur lives at Creek Vista Senior Apartments and recently took an arts workshop from Paonia artist Karen Howe. Credeur had already placed the image on matting and had it hanging in his PHS shrine and framed the piece for the occasion. Players wrote messages on the back and presented it to their coach after awards presentations.
Credeur said he'd like to find other eagle images and school memorabilia of all sizes and shapes. He would like to either convert them into presentation pieces, or frame them, and either give them to the school or return them to the owners.