The Paonia High School boys basketball team will be one of five teams advancing to the next round of the 2A state basketball championships.
The Eagles began their run to the playoffs last Tuesday, Feb. 19, with a 31-29 loss in Paonia to the West Grand Mustangs. That loss sent Paonia to the consolation semifinals of the 2A District 5 district tournament in De Beque.
The Eagle's next contest would be against old rival Hotchkiss, a 58-23 loser to Plateau Valley on Feb. 19. Paonia prevailed, 62-49, to advance to the finals and play number four Soroco on Feb. 23. The winner would finish fifth in the tournament and qualify for a state playoff berth in a regional match up. Paonia won the contest 48-41.
WG 31, Paonia 29
The Eagles were leading by three after one period but trailed by three at halftime to the Mustangs.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Paonia trailed 21-19. Each team scored 10 points in the final period making the Mustangs a 31-29 winner and sending Paonia to the consolation bracket.
David Lozano was Paonia's leading scorer with 11 points.
Paonia 62 HHS 49
This contest was dead-even after one period of play with each team scoring 17 points. A 17-4 second period gave the Eagles a big advantage in the game's outcome with a 34-21 lead at halftime.
There wasn't a winner, in points, in the second half with each team funneling 28 points through the nets to maintain the 13-point lead at halftime for the Eagles.
Lozano and Jose Pantoja shared scoring honors for Paonia with 16 points each and Soul Connelly was next with his 15 points.
Eagles 48, Rams 41
Paonia fans were feeling anxious at halftime of the consolation finals with Soroco holding a 27-23 lead. The Rams added another point to its lead in the third quarter causing fidgeting in the seats of Paonia fans.
Not to worry ... a monster effort from the Eagles produced a 17-point fourth quarter, coupled with a defense that allowed just seven points, to win the final District 5 playoff berth.
Lozano was Paonia's top scorer with his 19 points and Connelly followed closely with another 14 counters.
Paonia's boys finished the regular season with a 9-3 2A District 5 record and now own a 14-8 overall mark following last week's action.
Pairings for the next round of playoffs has not been established with late games across the state postponed until Sunday and Monday to determine qualifiers. Those state tournament pairings are scheduled to be released Tuesday and may be viewed on CHSAANow.com.