The Pirate girls’ basketball team finished a record regular season on Tuesday night, going 19-0 overall and 8-0 in the IML, the first team with a perfect season record in recent memory.
On Friday, the Pirates traveled to Monte Vista to face their toughest Intermountain League opponent this season, taking down their 13-4 namesakes 37-25 in a pitched defensive battle. Pagosa finished up the regular season on Tuesday in La Jara, defeating the Centauri Falcons 29-16.
Playing their lowest scoring game of the season (up to that point) Friday night in Monte Vista, the Pirates prevailed in a defensive battle in which both teams were held to single digit quarters in the second half, with Pagosa holding Monte to single digits in all quarters.
“I was of course pleased with our defense, again,” said Coach Wes Lewis, adding, “I have to give Monte Vista credit for playing a tough defense. They always kick it up a notch in their own gym.”
In fact, in a game against the team that will most likely face Pagosa for the conference title, it was the Pirates’ ability to command on offense during the first half that determined the game. Outscoring Monte 10-4 in the first quarter and 14-8 in the second, Pagosa’s defense was clearly the sharper sword as the Pirates left the half with a 24-12 lead.
While Monte picked up their defensive game in the second half, it was not nearly the effort needed to take back Pagosa’s momentum. Outscored 9-8 in the third, Monte held the Pirates to just four points in the final quarter, but scored only five of their own, leaving the game with a 37-25 defeat on their home court, putting them 3-4 in IML standings.
“We left too many points on the floor,” Lewis said regarding the low-scoring game. “We didn’t shoot too well from the free-throw line or from the floor.”
Mary Brinton led the team with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Breezy Bryant finished with 10 points and led with five assists and three steals, while Taylor Strohecker finished third in scoring with five points.
“Taylor Strohecker came in and did some good things for us,” Lewis said.
All Monte Vista scoring leaders were held to single digits.
It was Monte Vista’s second loss to Pagosa this season (having been thumped 51-27 by the Pirates on Jan. 22). Monte hosts the Bayfield Wolverines tonight in what ultimately will be a three-way fight for IML second place. Having lost to the 3-4 (in IML) Wolverines 57-47 on Jan. 28, it will determine who will share second place in the conference — Centauri will most likely win in Alamosa tonight against the 0-7 conference 2-15 season Mean Moose to go 4-4 in the IML this season.
Travelling to La Jara on Tuesday night to challenge a struggling Centauri Falcons squad, the Pirates broke Friday’s record (for lowest scoring game) to win 29-16 in an often sluggish defensive battle.
On Friday night, the Sanford Indians (No. 8 in 2A) beat Centauri 52-46 in La Jara, handing the Falcons the second of three straight losses (Centauri lost 46-44 in Monte Vista on Feb. 8); Pagosa beat the Indians 47-37 Jan. 25 in Sanford.
“We played a team that has been following us, watching Mary and Breezy for four years,” Lewis said. “They know our game plan, they know our offense. It’s hard to go against them in their gym.”
In fact, it was the only game this season in which the Pirates were held to single digits in all four quarters. Getting ahead of the Falcons 6-3 at the end of the first quarter, the Pirates went into the half with a 15-9 lead after outscoring Centauri 9-6 in the second.
“It was just kind of a slow-paced game,” Lewis said. “It wasn’t really aggressive on defense.”
Lewis understated the matter. With the third quarter matching the scores in the first, the Pirates finished in the fourth by outscoring the Falcons 8-4, taking the game with a 29-16 win.
Lewis acknowledged that, despite the win, it was not the Pirates’ best game of the season and that there is certainly room for improvement as Pagosa moves onto post-season play.
“We had 19 turnovers,” he said. “If we could take away 10 of those and make some shots on those, we could have had a forty-point game.”
Lewis also conceded that the Pirates need to work on converting from the free-throw line — an issue all season long — but was stymied on how his team could improve on converting on those opportunities. However, he said he was pleased on how his team drove into the lane.
“I thought we did a pretty good job as far as penetration,” he said.
Brinton led the team with 10 points scored, as well as logging eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Brooklyn DuCharme had five points, while Bryant finished with four points and led the team with three steals.
With over a week before the IML tournament, Lewis said he’d give his team some badly-needed rest before getting back to the hard work of preparing for next Thursday’s first round of the IML tournament.
“I’m not revealing for the paper what we’re going to do exactly,” Lewis said, “but we’re going to make some adjustments, I can tell you that.”
Next Tuesday, the loser of tonight’s Bayfield/Monte Vista match will face Alamosa in the tournament’s “pigtail” game and the winner will most likely be the team challenging the Pirates next Thursday. A full preview of this year’s IML tournament will run in next week’s edition of The SUN.