The Pirate boys started their basketball season putting a mark in both columns during last weekend’s round robin tournament at Buena Vista, falling 51-47 to the Buena Vista Demons on Friday night but returning to take a 61-45 win over the Alamosa Mean Moose Saturday afternoon.
Facing a team ranked eighth in statewide 3A standings, the Pirates took the court in Buena Vista looking a little overwhelmed. With the Demons carried on the back of senior Josh Morgan (26 points, with five assists and six steals), the Pirates found themselves down 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. Pagosa managed to regain some footing in the second period, outscoring the Demons by two and down a single bucket at the end of the half.
“We had a lot of good looks that didn’t finish,” said Coach Jim Shaffer regarding the slow start.
Trading shot for shot during the third quarter, the Pirates had difficulty gaining the edge as both teams left the period with 11 points each. It was during the final period where the Pirates looked to steal the game away from their hosts, taking the lead twice late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, late-game fouls by the Pirates allowed Buena Vista to capitalize close enough to the buzzer to keep their fans happy, handing Pagosa the 51-47 defeat.
Pirate leaders for the game were Tyson Ross (15 points and nine rebounds), Austin Jones with 11 points and Taylor Shaffer with 10 points.
“We played a lot better in the second half,” said Coach Shaffer. “Taylor fouled out in the last quarter and that hurt us. Turnovers and fouls hurt us.”
In fact, while the Demons had almost as much trouble holding onto the ball as the Pirates (16 turnovers to Pagosa’s 18), the Pirates looked outright aggressive compared to Buena Vista, racking up 22 personal fouls to a relative clean slate by the Demons (Buena Vista taking 27 free throws to Pagosa’s four).
Coming back on Saturday afternoon to face the 4A Mean Moose from Alamosa, the Pirates played a cleaner, more focused game.
Outscoring Alamosa every quarter, the Pirates never faced a serious challenge. Taking a 17-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Pirates left the half with a 32-25 advantage, having outscored Alamosa again in the second period with a 15-13 edge.
“We got off to a rough start,” said Shaffer, “but once we started guarding people, we got our defense on track.”
Again, the Pirates held the momentum, outscoring Alamosa 19-12 in the third period (making it a 51-37 game) and held that edge to the end, besting the Mean Moose 10-8 in the final quarter to head home on the heels of a 61-45 victory.
“We had 64 minutes playing zone defense and that mattered,” Shaffer said. “We did a good job offensively and defensively.”
Ross led the Pirates again with 23 points and eight rebounds. Taylor Shaffer followed with 12 points and seven assists, while Jordan Caler finished with eight points.
The Pirates return home to host the Wolf Creek Classic tournament this weekend, bringing the Demons to Pagosa for a possible rematch. The Demons will face the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers at 5 p.m. in the Pagosa Springs High School gym in a varsity boys’ match-up, and the Pirates will challenge the Dolores Bears in an 8 p.m. game. Losers of Friday’s matches will play Saturday at 4 p.m. for third place while the Friday’s winners will play at 7 p.m. Saturday to claim the title of tournament champion.