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Pirates head to holiday with 55-43 victory

A big night for Pirate sophomore Tyson Ross (leading the team with 20 points, nine rebounds and three steals) helped drive Pagosa to a 55-43 win over the Salida Spartans last Saturday night in the Pagosa Springs High School gym.

“It was a great team effort,” said Coach Jim Shaffer. “It’s like we held onto the ball. We played great basketball.”

In fact, facing a team that was ranked No. 4 in the state (and had scored 105 points against Platte Canyon on Dec. 12), the Pirates backed a powerful offense with an aggressive defense to knock the Spartans down a few notches.

Keeping Salida scoreless until the 4 minute, 48 second mark, the Pirates led throughout the quarter. A long pass from Taylor Shaffer to Jordan Caler led to an easy layup at the buzzer, giving the Pirates a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Breaking up the Spartans’ fast game with numerous steals, while holding Salida outside the key, Pagosa was able to continue the momentum into the half. Outscoring the Spartans again, 13-8, the Pirates left the half with a 29-18 lead.

Although Salida turned up the heat defensively in the third quarter, they were unable to kick start their offense, merely holding their ground but not gaining any inertia. Tying the Pirates at eight points in the period, Salida went into the final period down 37-26.

In fact, while Salida appeared to start pulling their offense together in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, it was too little, too late. Unable to overcome some nice Pagosa hustle and excellent Pirate teamwork, Salida dropped an early scoring advantage in the minutes that mattered the most.

Having shaved their deficit to six points, the Spartans ran out of steam. Looking sloppy and tired, hamstrung by fouls and turnovers, the Spartans lost whatever edge they attempted to gain, giving Pagosa a 18-17 scoring advantage in the final period, sunk 55-43 by the Pirates at the end of the game.

Taylor Shaffer was second in scoring with 17 points while showing an impressive 83 percent from the free throw line (going 10-for-12). In fact, the team overall had a 62.5 percent from the free-throw line.

“That’s as good a win as we’ve had in a couple of years,” the coach said, pleased with his team’s performance. In fact, while the stats suggest a Ross and Shaffer show, it was actually a tremendous team effort by the Pirates, a performance that had the home crowd on its feet at the end of the game.

A change in the rules this year will allow the Pirates to practice throughout most of the break. After the break, the Pirates will face the Spartans again during a Jan. 8 match in Salida. The Pirates will travel to Ignacio Jan. 12 to face the 4-2 Bobcats and then, on Jan. 16, will take back to the road to meet a winless Monte Vista team. The Pirates return home Saturday, Jan. 19, to host the Cortez Panthers.

jim@pagosasun.com