Pirates turn cold shoulder on Scorpions

If, in the words of the old Pashtun chestnut, that “revenge is a dish best served cold,” then the Farmington, N.M. Scorpions boys varsity basketball team were not only mistreated during their visit to Pagosa Springs, they weren’t even offered a hot meal.

When the two teams last met Feb. 5 in Farmington, the Pirates refused a warm reception, losing 48-56 to the Scorpions. On Saturday, it was the Pirates’ turn to offer Farmington their bitter brand of hospitality, served with the chill of a Pagosa February night.

The Pirate’s season finale began with a hard-fought quarter with both teams mirroring each other’s offense and defense. Holding a slight edge during the early part of the period, the Pirates lost a 5 point advantage in the final minutes and, with a quick layup by Scorpion’s standout senior Steve Philbrick, ended the quarter in a 17-17 tie.

“I went into the game knowing we were up against a tough team,” said Coach Jim Shaffer.

With a leadoff 3-pointer from Pirate’s senior Sackett Ross, Pagosa dominated early in the second quarter, scoring 9 unanswered points, holding Farmington scoreless for over five minutes in the period. Plagued by multiple mistakes, penalties and bad passing, the Scorpions finally managed to get back into the game during the last two minutes of the second quarter, slicing a Pirate lead to a single point with 53 seconds left. With another Pirate goal from the field and a single shot from the free-throw line by Farmington, the half ended with a narrow 27-25 Pagosa lead.

Not allowing the Pirates any advantage, the Scorpions brought the score back to a tie, in the opening seconds of the third period, with a leadoff goal from Philbrick. With both teams playing a tight defense, Farmington’s aggressive style got the better of them, finding their momentum broken by numerous fouls. Outscoring their visitors 14-12 in the period, the Pirates managed to build a 4-point lead going into the final quarter.

Changing tactics for the final period, Farmington switched out of the zone into a man defense — with some effect in the early minutes — keeping the scoreboard static for almost two minutes.

“At some point, it threw our guys off,” said Shaffer, “But we did some things down the stretch to adjust and that made a difference.”

Indeed, with back-to-back goals by Pirate’s junior Jordan Caler, Pagosa stretched their lead to 10 points. Although a breakaway layup by Farmington’s Philbrick whittled the Pirates’ advantage back to 8 points, it did little to get the Scorpions back fully into the game. With forced fouls as their only tactic, with less than a minute to go and 7 points down, Farmington had no hope of repeating their win from two weeks previous. Cold but sweet, the Pirate’s revenge ultimately served up an 11th win of the season and a 60-53 victory over the Scorpions.

“It was a quality win for us,” said the coach, “Against a quality basketball team.”

Caler and senior John Jewell led the Pirates in scoring with 12 points each. Junior Taylor Shaffer followed closely with 11 points and led the team with 6 assists. Junior Dakota Ross and senior Sackett Ross rounded out the top scorers with 8 points each.

Shooting better from the floor from the previous night, the Pirates scored 55-percent from the field. However, 67-percent from the free-throw line showed the Pirates dropping significantly from Friday’s exceptional 85-percent free-throw execution.

The Pirates meet Centauri, in Monte Vista tomorrow night at 6 p.m., for the first round of the Intermountain League tournament. With two decisive wins over the 1-5 Falcons this season, the Pirates should have no problem moving onto the second round on Saturday night, at 8 p.m., to meet the winner of Friday’s Monte Vista/Bayfield match. Although the Pirates are clear favorites in the league, with a perfect 6-0 record in the league (with Monte Vista, at 3-3, a distant second), the winner on Saturday night will hold definitive bragging rights as conference champs.