By Wayne Crick

Sports editor

Scheduling isn’t what it’s been in years past due to the continued influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hotchkiss High School’s girls and boys teams played games against Paonia and Plateau Valley. The Bulldog boys faced Class 1A’s top team, De Beque, on Saturday of last week and couldn’t find a basket when it was desperately needed in a 51-29 loss.

Hotchkiss’ girls fell victim to the 2A/1A league-leading Paonia Eagles, 41-25, on Feb. 2 and bounced back with a win over Plateau Valley on Feb. 5 by a score of 49-38. The Hotchkiss boys were winners against Paonia, 57-11, and stumbled in Collbran to fall to Plateau Valley, 51-33.

In girls’ action against Paonia, neither team was enjoying much offensive success with turnovers abounding in the early stages of the game. It wasn’t until the second half that Paonia put together two double-digit scoring quarters to pull away from the Bulldogs for a 16-point victory, 41-25. The Eagles trailed 12-11 at halftime but came out with more intensity in the second half to post an 11-5 surge in the third period for a 22-17 lead with eight minutes left to play. Paonia found the right ingredients for some offensive success in the final period and scored 19 points while its defense limited the Bulldogs to 8.

Sophomore Payton Fister was the game’s leading scorer with 14 points and had 7 steals in the game for the Eagles. Sophomore Leia Ellenberger netted 12 points and recorded 6 steals in the win. Hotchkiss junior Vianney Mendoza led the Bulldogs’ offense with 11 points and pulled down 5 rebounds in the loss.

Hotchkiss’ win over the Eagles in boys action did not have many statistics available for comparison. In a limited report, Paonia’s Dom Felice had 4 points to lead the Eagles in scoring against Hotchkiss. No statistics were available from Hotchkiss.

Friday’s girls contest against Plateau Valley began with the Bulldogs taking a 5-point lead after one period only to have the Cowboys awakened in the second quarter to tie the game 20-20 by halftime.

Hotchkiss regained an offensive superiority in the third quarter with a 15-3 run and led 35-23 going to the fourth quarter. The Cowboys scored 15 points in the final stanza but came up 11 points short in the 49-38 Hotchkiss win.

Juniors Lottie Hollembeak and Izzie Houseweart had 12 points to lead the Bulldogs’ offense with Mendoza next high with her 11 points. Hollembeak and Houseweart had 5 rebounds and 5 steals in the win while Mendoza snagged 6 rebounds. Sophomore Kacie McCollum paced the Bulldogs in rebounding with 11 and junior Indigo Miller-Barnes recorded 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in the win.

For the boys in Collbran, Plateau Valley stormed to a 14-3 lead in its game’s first eight minutes and held the edge with a 25-18 second half scoring advantage to win the game, 51-33.

The Bulldog’s Blaine Peebles had 8 points in the game with teammates Kenny Drbohlav and Oliver Mendoza finishing with 5 points each. Plateau Valley’s Payton Ferganchick tossed in 15 points for game-high honors and teammates Tallon Long and David Crowhurst had 10 points each for the Cowboys.

Hotchkiss’ boys ended their week at home against De Beque on Saturday. Hotchkiss’ defense bothered the Dragons for most of the contest but not enough to deter them from making key baskets to stay in front of the determined Bulldogs. A 15-6 first quarter gave De Beque a little breathing room while the offense tried to find solutions to Hotchkiss’ aggressive play.

A 29-11 halftime lead dwindled in the third quarter with the Bulldogs cutting the deficit to 12 points in one instance during a 13-7 Hotchkiss run. The fourth quarter was all De Beque as the Bulldogs were forced to take long range shots and foul when the Dragons continually made plays to keep their advantage anywhere from 15-20 points.

Wes Ryan’s 20 points included key shots and free throws down the stretch for a comfortable cushion for the Dragons. Jaden Jordan’s 15 points included a 9-for-12 free throw shooting performance and gave De Beque two players who were equally difficult to guard.

Coulson Hollembeak’s 10 points topped Hotchkiss’ scorers with Will Poutre scoring 6 points to be the next highest scorer for the Bulldogs.

Hotchkiss’ schedule for the week of Feb. 8 begins Tuesday, Feb. 9, at home with Caprock. Games begin at 3 p.m. (girls JV), 4:30 p.m. (boys JV), 6 p.m. (girls V) and 7:30 p.m. (boys V). A busy schedule continues on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at home against Nucla with games starting at 3, 4:30, 6 and 7 p.m. Hotchkiss’ third home game of the week is set for Friday, Feb. 12 against Cedaredge with games set for 3, 4:30, 6 and 7:30 p.m. The week’s final game is in Olathe on Saturday, Feb. 13, with both junior varsity games set for 11 a.m. and the girls varsity scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and the boys varsity game at 2 p.m.

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