The No. 4 Paonia High School boys' basketball team is in cruise control headed toward the post season.
Last week the Eagles posted three wins in five days and improved their winning streak to nine in a row. The boys are 15-1 overall and are undefeated in 1A/2A Western Slope League play at 9-0.
Paonia hosts Rangely on Friday and then Caprock on Saturday.
Eagles 62, Bruins 37
Paonia started against Cedaredge by getting whistled for a technical foul before tipoff. After that it was all Eagles.
Senior Francisco Lopez wore a different jersey number, 33, than he reported at the scorer's table, 23, so Paonia got the technical to open the game. Christian Reynolds sank a free throw for the Bruins, but it would be the only lead Cedaredge would enjoy.
Lopez immediately atoned for his mistake and scored Paonia's first bucket. Perhaps Lopez was extra motivated as he poured in 16 points for the winners. The Eagles were led by 18 from Colby Simpson.
"We did the little things that we talk about doing," Eagles coach Chase Roeber said. "We took care of the ball a little better tonight, we made the extra pass when it was there to make, and then we really worked hard on the boards on both ends."
The rivals played a tough first quarter that saw Paonia take a 15-10 lead, then the Eagles opened things up and took a 32-24 advantage into halftime.
The Eagles dominated the third quarter 18-6 to put the Bruins away.
Eagles 59, Cowboys 39
The night before, Paonia put together a very similar performance to defeat Meeker.
The Eagles got off to an early start and held form throughout the game, leading 13-7 after the first and 31-18 at halftime.
Colby Simpson and Dagan Rienks led the way for the Eagles, each scoring 16 points in the victory. Francisco Lopez tossed in 12 for Paonia, which shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the win.
"We just have to continue to get better," Roeber said. "We come into the gym every day and we continue to get better. As long as we strive to get better and continue to get better every day, we're doing great things."
Eagles 63, Bulldogs 62
Paonia scored six points in the last minute to come from behind and stun North Fork Valley rival Hotchkiss last Tuesday night.
Colby Simpson scored on a three-point play with less than a second left and Paonia completed the comeback win. The Eagles trailed after each of the first three quarters of play, then won the fourth frame 23-15 for the victory.
The Eagles got balanced scoring to edge the Bulldogs. Simpson finished with 15 points. Dagan Rienks netted 14, Taylor Walters scored 12 for Paonia and Francisco Lopez chipped in with 11 for the victors.
The crazy win started a strong week for the Eagles.
"We kind of ran the gauntlet this week," Roeber said. "I'm just glad we came out with three wins. This sets us up for the post season. The first week of the district tournament we're going to have to play three games against tough teams, so this sets us up for that really nice."