Photo by Tamie Meck Annavah Kropp heads for a lay up in Paonia’s district tournament win over Rangely. The Lady Eagles and the Paonia boys’ teams will travel to Durango for this week’s regional round of the 2013 state playoffs.Sometimes, having a bye week heading into playoffs can go against a team.
Paonia, the team that went undefeated to claim the Western Slope League title and enter last weekend's district tournament seeded first, couldn't seem to shake off the rust after earning a bye in first-round district competition.
Paonia had hoped to compete in the Region five tournament at Grand Junction Central High School starting this Friday. But after an upset loss to No. 2 Meeker in Saturday's district championship game, they will travel to Durango, along with the Eagles' boys' team, to compete in the Region Three tournament.
Paonia 38, Rangely 34
Paonia opened with a 38-34 win over Rangely after trailing throughout most of the game. Lady Panther posts Brittany Babineaux and Quincey Thacker poured on the defense, holding Paonia to two first-period field goals.
Babineaux opened the game by sinking two three-point goals, and Thacker wrapped up the period with two field goals.
The Eagles found themselves in early foul trouble, and Rangely shot its first bonus points midway in the first half. Paonia post Abby Campbell was charged with her third foul with four minutes remaining in the half.
Paonia's shooting game was lackluster. They shot one of eight in the first half, and scored seven points in the second period to trail 18-12 at the half.
Mandy Bushta opened the second half with a trey. Carson Pipher scored three goals from the paint, and Bushta sank a field goal to end the third period trailing 24-23.
Chelsy Reed tied the game at 24 to start the fourth period, and Easton Hartigan came off the bench to score a goal and give Paonia its first lead of the game early in the fourth. Braiden Clement hit a three-pointer to put Paonia ahead by five. Rangely was unable to come back, and Thacker scored the final goal of the game with less than 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
Pipher was lead scorer for Paonia with 11 points.
Paonia 58, Meeker 61
In Friday's semifinal game against Hotchkiss, Meeker senior guard Kaysyn Chintala suffered a knee injury late in the game and was unable to play in Saturday's championship game against Paonia. During team introductions, she stood on crutches with her knee wrapped in bandages.
As the names of the Eagles' starting players were called before the game, each player shook Chintala's hand in a gesture of respect.
And while Meeker surely missed Chintala's skills (she averages 9.8 points and 2.2 steals per game), they had Taylor Neilson to fill in the void. The 5-foot, 6-inch junior who averages just under 13 points per game and scored a total of 15 points in two games against Paonia, came alive to score a season- and career-high 31 points to lead Meeker to an upset win and the district title. Paonia never had the lead.
Eagle Abby Campbell had one of her best games of the season in terms of scoring. Paonia struggled to make the outside shots, but Campbell scored a team-high 20 points and scored five second-half goals from the paint.
Pipher ended the game with 16 points.
Paonia will open Region Three play at Durango this Friday against Del Norte (14-8, 8-2 Southern Peaks League). The winner will face either Ignacio (14-7, 7-1 San Juan League) or Sanford (12-11, 6-4 Southern Peaks League) on Saturday, with the top team advancing to the Great Eight tournament in Pueblo.