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Pirate girls, boys earn IML victories over Centauri

Hosting Centauri Tuesday night (after snow storms cancelled last Saturday’s scheduled game), the Pirates did not offer their guests much hospitality, with the Pagosa girls soundly beating the Falcons 56-36, while the boys took Centauri down 66-45.

Several explanations can be given for the girl’s victory: They were patient, pacing themselves, rarely losing composure; they played a balanced game — almost every varsity player scored with just a nine-point difference between the lowest scorer and the highest scorer. And they played with a kind of graciousness and sportsmanship — and, especially, teamwork — that should make all Pagosans proud.

The same could not be said of the Falcons. Fast and tough in the first portion of each half, they allowed themselves to peter out as each half edged towards the buzzer while teamwork was inconsistent, and hot dogs passed up players with good looks. Worst of all, an aggressive and physical style of play too often devolved into cheap shots.

Taking the initiative in the first quarter, Centauri took an early 5-0 lead, holding the Pirates scoreless for nearly five minutes into the period. With 3 minutes, 8 seconds left, Breezy Bryant finally put Pagosa on the board with a perfect 3-point shot, then quickly followed with another two points. Megan Bryant briefly put the Pirates up 7-5 with just over a minute left but a Falcon bucket moments later led to a 7-7 tie at the end of the quarter.

The Falcons wore themselves out midway through the second period, unable to answer a fast and cohesive Pirate offense or score on Pagosa’s determined defense. Momentarily pulling ahead with a 3-pointer in the first minute of the second quarter, the Falcons soon lost their edge and never caught up. Unable to match Pagosa’s teamwork on any level, Centauri found themselves outscored 18-9 in the period, leaving the half down 25-16.

Again, the Falcons entered the half bolting out of the gate. Trading bucket for bucket with the Pirates, the Falcons were only edged out a point in the third quarter, 10-9, in a tough defensive battle. But, once again, Centauri players had little left to give in the latter part of the half. Outscored 21-11 in the final quarter, the Falcons showed their frustration with several blatant fouls that sent two Pirates to the bench with injuries. However, karma was less a factor in Centauri’s defeat than their inability to play as a team or pace themselves, and the Pirates took their second IML victory of the season, building an overall 9-1 record (the Falcons are 0-2 in conference and 2-5 overall).

The Bryant sisters led the Pirates in scoring, Breezy with 13 points (and a 100-percent field goal percentage, two-for-three from the free-throw line), also leading the team with four assists and six steals, while Megan scored 12 points. Mary Brinton was a close third with 11 points (and 100 percent — 7-for-7 — from the free-throw line) and a team-leading 12 rebounds, while Brooklynn DuCharme scored eight points.

While the Falcon boys exhibited teamwork, played respectable basketball and were able to pace themselves, they were simply outpaced by the Pirates. Held scoreless for almost six minutes in the first quarter, the Falcons allowed Pagosa to get out to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter. Adjusting their zone defense somewhat, Centauri was able to scrape together a quicker offense in the second quarter. Still, outscored 15-12 in the period, the Falcons left the half 32-19 behind the Pirates.

“In the first part of each half, I thought we played well,” said coach Jim Shaffer. “We put ourselves in a position to win.”

The effectiveness of the Pirate defense was evident as Centauri was largely held outside the paint. Scoring well from the 3-point zone (by late in the third quarter, 18 of Centauri’s 31 points were 3-pointers), it was a sign that Falcon players were unable to drive into the key. Outscored 22-14 in the period, the Falcons went into the final period down 54-33. Trading baskets in the fourth quarter (and with Shaffer filling the floor with players off the bench late in the quarter), Centauri managed to outscore Pagosa 13-12, but outpaced for the distance, the Falcons fell 66-45 in the end.

Austin Jones led the team with 18 points, nine rebounds and four steals, followed by Tyson Ross and Taylor Shaffer, both with 11 points. Zerek Jones finished with seven points while Jordan Caler led the team with six assists and finished with six points.

The Pirates improved to 8-2 for the season and are 2-0 in conference.

Tomorrow night, the Pirates host league rivals Bayfield, with the girls starting at 5:30 p.m. and the boys scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off time. The girls face a Wolverines team that, while 9-4, has faced some tough New Mexico and 4A teams (however, Bayfield’s 73-29 trouncing of Monte Vista last Thursday was done at home with five Monte Vista varsity players out). The girls travel the next night to Alamosa for a rematch against a hapless (0-10) 4A Mean Moose team — the Pirates beat the Moose 42-25 on Dec. 5 in their first game of the season.

The boys, on the other hand, face scant opposition. Friday’s game against the 4-9 Wolverines finds the Pirates facing a team that lost 61-57 to the Dolores Bears —a team Pagosa demolished in a 102-26 win on Dec. 12 during the Wolf Creek Classic.

Shaffer is not taking Friday’s game lightly, however, saying, “We know they’re a team that can cause problems ... they have some really athletic, quick kids.”

On Saturday, the Pirates travel to Alamosa to face a 6-7 Mean Moose team for a rematch (Pagosa won 61-45 on Dec. 5).