Paonia High School's run to the title game in last weekend's 2A District 5 tournament began at home with a matchup against 13-8 Meeker. The Eagles were less than hospitable, on the court, as they soared to an 83-49 victory. The win moved Paonia to Friday's semifinal round where it faced an old nemesis, Hotchkiss. Paonia was too much in a rematch with the Bulldogs and claimed a 61-38 decision (see related story in Hotchkiss hoops story) for a berth in the District 5 championship game on Saturday with Cedaredge. Paonia smothered the Bruins, 50-23, to win the title and grab the number one seed heading into this week's regional action.
Eagles 83, Meeker 49
Meeker and Hayden participated in a play-in game on Feb. 22 to determine Paonia's foe for Tuesday's game. Meeker won that contest 76-26.
Four players scored in double figures as the Eagles routed the visiting Cowboys, 83-49. Taylor Walters led Paonia's scoring parade with 21 points, followed by Colby Simpson's 16, Dagan Rienks with 12 and Tristan Mautz's 11.
The Eagles wanted to leave little doubt as to their intentions in the first quarter. A 23-12 start kept Meeker at bay for the remainder of the game.
Paonia kept its intensity for the next two quarters, scoring 23 and 24 points in the second and third quarters respectively. Meeker's point totals for the same time span were 12, 11 and nine points.
The Cowboys had their biggest scoring output of the game in period number four with a 17-13 finish.
Paonia 61, HHS 38
A determined Paonia team worked hard to keep the Bulldogs from pulling an upset. The Eagles won three of the four quarters on their way to a 23-point victory. Game details may be found in the Hotchkiss boys' basketball story in today's paper.
Eagles 50, Bruins 23
Paonia was poised for success against the Bruins in last weekend's 2A District 5 tournament title game.
The Eagles didn't have the best start ever, but they did follow the lead of Simpson's nine-point effort in the first period to take a 14-9 lead. From there, Paonia never looked back. Tyler Cooper had five of Cedaredge's nine points on a field goal and three free throws.
Simpson continued to lead Paonia's offense in the second quarter with another five points. Walters and Rienks completed the scoring for Paonia in the period with four points each.
Third-quarter play saw a drop in offensive production with Paonia winning the period, 11-5, and taking a 38-25 lead to the last frame.
A combination of Bruins' miscues and a stout defense limited Cedaredge to just one point over the final eight minutes of the game. Paonia's offense generated another 12 points to make the final score 50-23.
Simpson's 19 points led all scorers in the game while teammate Rienks finished with 11. Cooper and Garrett Meyers topped Cedaredge shooters with seven points apiece.
Both teams, as do Vail Christian and Hotchkiss, move on to this week's regional competition in either Rifle or Coal Ridge High School.
Playoff schedules are split between Region 3 Pool 1 and Pool 2 sites.
Pool 1 play has No. 2 Paonia (21-1) playing in Rifle against No. 7 Dayspring Christian Academy (15-6) at 7:30 p.m.
The early game, in Pool 1, will feature No. 4 Cedaredge (14-8) against No. 5 Dawson School (11-11) at 4:30 p.m. in Rifle.
At Coal Ridge, in Pool 2 play, No. 3 Highland (18-4) and No. 6 Vail Christian (16-6) meet at 4:30 p.m.
The late game in Coal Ridge features No. 1 Resurrection Christian (21-0) and No. 8 Hotchkiss at 7:30 p.m.
Losers are eliminated from state competition and the winners are scheduled to play in Rifle on Saturday, Mar. 5, at 12:30 p.m.
Teams playing in the championship move on to next week's state tournament in Pueblo (CSU-Massari Gymnasium).