The opponents were taller, had more depth and more upper classmen, and are ranked higher, but the Paonia Eagles gave their guests a good game last Wednesday in their 52-44 loss to Grand Valley.
"I was happy with our effort tonight," said head coach Tim Esgar. "Grand Valley's a good team."
The Eagles scored 21 points on 3-point shots. David Lozano's 12 points were scored from outside the arc, Kyle Long scored six of his eight points on threes, and Soul Connolly and Logan Green each contributed a trey.
Lozano opened the game with two three-point goals and Green added another trey to give Paonia a 16-11 lead to end the first period. A strong second period by the Cards left Paonia trailing at halftime, 24-22.
In the third, Cardinal Wade Weise scored nine to boost the Cards' lead to seven. The Eagles were running out of steam against a much deeper Grand Valley bench, but still managed to score 13 points down the stretch, matching Grand Valley almost point for point.
Esgar gave kudos to Jose Pantoja for doing "those simple things" that kept the Eagles in the game, and to Green for his ball-handling skills and tough defense. "He's just that consistent guy all the time," said Esgar.
Long also got some extra credit. He's among several players whose game is improving at the right time, said Esgar. In post-season play, "We're going to need some depth. But if we play like that going down the road against other 2A teams, I feel pretty good about where we'll be."
Paonia traveled Friday to North Park (1-13, 0-8) for a 55-27 win. Lozano scored two 3-pointers and a team-high 15 points in the win.
On Saturday Paonia lost to Soroco, 46-43. The Rams (9-7, 6-3) are currently second in 2A District 5 standings, and Paonia is fourth. Soul Connolly scored a team-high 11 points and Pantoja scored eight. Lozano, who scored his six points for the game on treys, forced four turnovers on steals.
The Eagles host No. 1 Vail Christian at 7 p.m. Friday, and travel to Rangely Saturday to play the 2-12 Panthers in a 2:30 p.m. contest.