Soroco girls blow out basketball powerhouse Paonia
January 13, 2018
Sure, the Paonia High School girls basketball team isn't quite the monster it was last year, when it went undefeated and won the state championship.
But, the Eagles don't really have "down" years, at least not since Hayden-native Scott Rienks took over the program in 2007. They've lost just six league games in that span of 10 full seasons.
It's enough to make the result out of Oak Creek on Friday hard to process. The Rams defied the rules of Western Slope basketball physics that have reigned for a decade, slamming Paonia, 57-22.
"Yeah, that's a pretty big deal," coach David Bruner said. "It was pretty exciting for the community and the fans and our kids. We played a well-rounded game, shot the ball the best we've shot it and definitely played the best we have on defense."
Paonia simply doesn't lose games like that. It rarely loses them at all. The Eagles have been in the state title game each of the last two seasons and been at state, among the state's final eight teams, eight times in the past 10 years.
The Eagles hadn’t lost to the Rams in at least 11 years.
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Soroco came into Friday's game on a hot streak, fresh off beating one of the more threatening league teams, Rangely, 51-39.
It wasn't as sharp against Rangely as it was against Paonia, however, and it started with that defense. Paonia was limited to one point in the first quarter and had six at halftime.
"We're having a lot of fun and the kids, they just play so hard," Bruner said. "It's amazing to watch them. They're playing super hard on defense and that's creating a lot of offensive opportunities for us."
The team took advantage of those offensive windows, draining five 3-point shots in the first half. The team's leading scorer, Chloe Veilleux, spent much of the game in foul trouble, but she had plenty of teammates rise to the occasion.
Senior Mattie Rossi played what Bruner termed the best game of her career to this point, "great shooting the ball and stealing the ball."
Sophomore Kourtney Bruner led the team in rebounding and junior Grace Olinger, "she's really starting to show how good of a player she can be,” David Bruner said. "Defensively, she’s playing the best of anyone right now."
It all amounted to a feat that makes blue moons seem common and even comets regular. But, Bruner said, most of the league schedule remains and a tough test awaits even Thursday when Soroco, 7-3 and 1-0, will play host to undefeated Vail Christian.
"We still have work to do,” Bruner said.