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Pirate girls dominate IML tourney

Capping a stellar season, the Pirate girls played to an enthusiastic home crowd this past weekend, easily winning the IML tournament with a 56-39 victory over Monte Vista on Friday night and a 56-30 win over the Centauri Falcons on Saturday night to take the IML crown.

Monte Vista came into the game strong, playing a tough defense in the first quarter. However, while holding Pagosa to only 10 points in the period, Monte was only able to scrape out nine points of their own. Sacrificing defense to put some fire in their offense, Monte scrapped their full-court press midway through the quarter, hoping the adjustment would help them get some more points on the board.

Monte’s offense was no match for Pagosa’s defense, however. Taking advantage of Monte’s reluctance to return to the press, the Pirates widened the lead, with Mary Brinton scoring 11 points in the quarter and Meagan Bryant scoring another four, giving the Pirates a 15-9 scoring edge in the quarter to lead going to the half, 25-18.

Continuing to adjust, reapplying defensive pressure then attempting to conserve energy for offense, Monte Vista could not catch a break. Unable to execute on offense and unable to apply adequate pressure against the Pirates, Monte was outscored 15-8 in the third period and 16-13 in the final quarter, losing their chance to move on in the IML tournament with a 56-39 loss to the Pirates.

Brinton led her team with 31 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks, while Meagan Bryant finished with eight points. Breezy Bryant finished third in scoring with seven points, tying Brooklynn DuCharme with three steals each, while Sienna Stretton led the team with five assists.

The team excelled from the free-throw line, going 18-for-21 to hit an impressive 86 percent.

The Pirates had even less trouble the following night in the IML championship game against the Centauri Falcons.

Unable to execute past a strong Pirates defense, the Falcons floundered in the first quarter, falling 16-4 to the Pirates. Although able to apply a little more defensive pressure in the second quarter, the Falcons were held to just four points in the period while the Pirates were able to rack up eight more points, leaving the first half with a 24-8 lead.

While Centauri was able to gain a little traction in the third quarter, outscoring the Pirates 10-9, Pagosa came back with a big final period, scoring 23 points and holding the Falcons to just 12, taking the game — and the tournament — with a big 56-30 victory.

Brinton’s 21 points was the high for the team, as were her 11 rebounds and six blocks. Meagan Bryant followed up with nine points while Breezy Bryant was third in scoring with seven points, leading the team with four steals. Victoria Espinosa led the team with seven assists.

Again, the Pirates capitalized on free-throws, scoring 15 points on 18 attempts for an admirable 83 percent from the line.

Conference champs and rated No. 4 in Colorado 3A girl’s basketball, the Pirates play the first round of the state championships, hosting the 29th-ranked Aspen Skiers at 6 p.m. tomorrow night.

At 2 p.m., the 13th-ranked Buena Vista Demons will meet the 20th-ranked Rye Thunderbolts in their first round. Winners of that match will meet the winners of the Pagosa Springs/Aspen game at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The winner of the Saturday game advances to the Great Eight, at Fort Collins the next weekend.

Tickets for the playoffs are $6 for adults, $5 for students K-12 and seniors (aged 60 and over). Only CHSAA passes and Colorado High School Coaches Association passes can be used. League passes and family passes will not be honored.

jim@pagosasun.com