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Pirate girls capture tourney title

Second-ranked in Colorado girls’ 3A basketball by The Denver Post (behind Broomfield’s Holy Family Tigers) the Pirates made a sound debut last weekend in Buena Vista at the season’s annual kickoff tournament, defeating the Gunnison Cowboys 43-33 on Friday afternoon, then taking the championship with a 53-33 win over the Buena Vista Demons on Saturday night.

“It was a good start to the season,” said coach Wes Lewis.

Indeed it was. Although it took a little time for the Pirates to gain their sea legs, it wasn’t long before Pagosa pulled it together to show the Cowboys what would come from the state’s second-ranked team. Down 5-0 in the opening minutes of the game, the Pirates came back to score 11 straight points, taking the quarter 11-7 against the Cowboys. Effectively shutting down Gunnison’s offense, the Pirates outscored their opponents 10-5 in the second quarter, leaving the half with a 21-12 lead.

“We came out pretty slow, missed some easy shots,” Lewis said, but added, “we dug in defensively and got the job done.”

With Pagosa continuing their onslaught in the third quarter, the Cowboys found themselves outscored 15-5 in the third. Up 36-17 going into the final period, and well ahead by over 20 points midway through the quarter, Lewis pulled his starters to give his younger players some floor time.

Unfortunately, displaying less than stellar sportsmanship, Gunnison coach Kevin Mickelson reasserted a full-court press (that had failed early in the game) against the Pirate neophytes, allowing the Cowboys to wrangle 16 points in the quarter versus the seven scored by Pagosa. Nevertheless, the Cowboys could not gain sufficient ground and lost 43-33 to the Pirates.

“It was kind of a work in progress,” Lewis said in regard to his team’s rough start. “We played good in stretches ... we need to put five to eight minutes (of consistent play) together, not two to three minutes.

“I thought we did well on defense,” Lewis added, referring to his team holding their opponents to just seven points in over a quarter and a half between the second and third periods.

Mary Brinton led the team with 12 rebounds, 27 points and an impressive 93.75 percentage from the line, hitting 15 out of 16 free throws. Breezy Bryant was second in scoring with 12 points, while assist leader (with four) Sienna Stretton and Magan Kraetsch both scored a bucket each.

Gunnison went on to win the consolation round on Saturday afternoon, pounding the Woodland Park Panthers 55-27.

Returning on Saturday to claim the tournament title, the Pirates met their hosts the Buena Vista Demons (who had eked out a victory against the 4A Panthers on Friday night) in the championship round, a game that showed Pagosa playing a more consistent and intense level of basketball.

Bringing their intense defense back to the floor, the Pirates allowed only two points by the Demons during the first quarter while scoring 14 points of their own. Although the Demons managed to adjust in the second quarter, outscoring the Pirates 15-11, Pagosa left the half with a commanding 29-13 lead.

“I felt pretty comfortable the whole game,” Lewis said. “We got Brooklynn DuCharme and Destiny Soto to score. Sure, we’re happy when Mary is scoring or Breezy is scoring, but in order to be successful, we need to be more balanced. We had a bunch of balanced scoring.”

Never in trouble throughout the game, the Pirates came back in the second half to dominate on offense and defense. Outscoring the Demons 15-6 in the third quarter, Lewis was again given the luxury of bringing his young players into the game during the final minutes. With a 40-23 lead going into the final quarter, the Pirate bench held its own. While outscored 13-10 in the fourth, the Pirates had little chance of giving up the game and took the tournament title with a 53-33 win over the Demons.

Brinton led the team again with 16 rebounds and 18 points, followed by DuCharme who scored 12 points and led the team with a hat trick of three-pointers (the team scored a total of 24 points outside the three-point line). Soto had eight points followed by Breezy Bryant with seven points and a team-leading four assists.

The Pirates make their home debut tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. at the annual Wolf Creek Classic tournament, hosting the 2A Dolores Bears (1-1). Prior to the Pirates’ game, the Cowboys will face the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers, with the girls playing at 3:30 p.m. and the boys playing at 5 p.m.

On Saturday, consolation rounds start at 2:30 p.m. for the girls, 4 p.m. for the boys, with the girls’ championship round starting 5:30 p.m.

Next week, the Pirates travel to Monte Vista to meet the 2A Sargent Farmers (2-1 with a 44-28 loss to Dolores, a 55-24 win over Center and a 47-31 victory over Sierra Grande) then return home to host the 2-1 Salida Spartans at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night, Dec. 18 (Salida lost 47-21 against 1A Moffet in Cotopaxi then took back-to-back wins in Colorado Springs, 41-17 against Colorado Springs School and 35-22 against James Irwin).

jim@pagosasun.com