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Pirate boys face Olathe in first round of state action

Facing stiff inter-league competition, the Pirate boys fell short in overtime at this year’s Intermountain League tournament. Taking the court as last year’s IML champions, the Pirates eked out a narrow 68-65 victory over the Bayfield Wolverines on Friday night. Unfortunately, the Pirates were outlasted by the Alamosa Mean Moose on Saturday night, falling 77-74 in overtime, handing over the IML crown to the league’s second ranked team.

Despite the loss, the Pirate boys did not give up their position in tournament seeding (announced Sunday) and will host three teams in the first round of state playoffs.

Friday’s game should have been an indication to the Pirates that league opponents would not fall easily. Despite getting out ahead 21-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Pirates were matched in the second and eventually outscored 15-14 for the period, leaving the half with a 35-26 lead.

“Bayfield played a really good basketball game,” said Coach Randy Sorenson.

The 12-8 Wolverines continued chipping away at Pagosa’s lead, outscoring the Pirates 20-16 in the third and trailing 51-46 going into the last quarter.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, defense continued to stumble as both teams traded buckets to the end. While the Wolverines outscored Pagosa 19-17 in the period, it was a foul on Tyson Ross, with one second left in the game, that saved the Pirates. With Ross hitting from the foul line, Bayfield was left with only third-place aspirations for the tournament, handing the Pirates a 68-65 victory.

Ross led the team with 29 points (hitting five three-pointers) and five steals, tying Zerek Jones (who had 16 points and four blocked shots) with seven rebounds; Zach Lucero finished third in scoring with eight points.

Sorenson said, “I thought we did a really good job hanging in there until the end. Just like we’ve done all year, we found a way to win.”

Later that night, the Alamosa Mean Moose defeated the Centauri Falcons 56-34, taking their place to face the Pirates in Saturday night’s championship round (the Wolverines took third place, beating the Falcons 67-36 in Saturday’s consolation round).

Despite finishing the season on top of the league, the Pirates were unable to claim bragging rights in the IML tournament. Facing the 13-7 Mean Moose for the tournament crown, the Pirates were challenged by a former 4A team holding a distinct size advantage. In fact, although the Mean Moose lost twice to Pagosa during the regular season, they had kept those games fairly close, with a 59-53 loss at home on Jan. 21 and losing 64-55 Feb. 4 in Pagosa Springs.

The Mean Moose took the floor Saturday night seeking to set the record straight. Coming out strong in the first quarter, Alamosa took an 18-16 lead, but dropped that advantage when the Pirates edged ahead in the second, outscoring the Mean Moose 21-17 and leaving the half up 37-35.

“That was a great high school basketball game,” Sorenson said regarding a tight contest.

“I was really disappointed in our defense and rebounding,” he added.

Pagosa bumped up the lead 15-14 in the third, but stumbled in the fourth, allowing Alamosa to tie the game in a 21-18 quarter, both teams going into overtime with 70 points. Unfortunately, it was the Mean Moose who held onto the momentum, defeating the Pirates 77-74 and winning their first IML tournament.

Ross led the Pirates with 19 points (hitting a hat trick of three-pointers), 12 rebounds and three steals. Kain Lucero was second in scoring with 16 points and led with 10 assists, while Jones finished third in scoring with 14 points.

“We had our opportunities and just didn’t follow through,” Sorenson said. “We missed free throws and we didn’t box out a rebound on the last shot and that basically cost us the game.”

Alamosa moves on to the state playoffs tomorrow ranked eighth in Class 3A, hosting 25th-ranked La Junta (9-12).

At 8 p.m. Friday, the 17-3 Pirates, ranked fifth in state 3A, will face the 28th-ranked Olathe Pirates (10-12), following a 4 p.m. match between the 12th-ranked Sheridan Rams 18-4) and the 13-10 Buena Vista Demons (ranked 21st in state 3A).

“I think they’re a lot like Alamosa,” Sorenson said of Olathe. “They have some size — six-five and six-four kids on the inside — and they shoot well. They’re better than their record shows and they were playing a lot better at the end of the year.”

Should Pagosa win Friday night, they could face the Demons, a team the Pirates defeated 62-54 Dec. 4 in Buena Vista.

“They’re big and well-coached. They were in the state tournament last year,” Sorenson said regarding a potential rematch against the Demons.

Regarding a potential showdown against the Rams, Sorenson said, “I think they’re fast and they do a lot of up and down stuff. They’re a totally different team than Buena Vista. They don’t have much size, but they’re quick and they shoot well.”

Much like Pagosa?

“Exactly,” Sorenson replied.

Winners from Friday night’s matches will play Saturday at 3 p.m. to determine which team will move on to Fort Collins for the Thursday, March 10 “Great Eight” round.

Pagosa Springs High School co-Athletic Director Sean O’Donnell is asking that Pirates fans participate in the “Pirate Blackout” this weekend. Fans should “Wear black in a show of support for our teams,” he said.

O’Donnell also wanted to remind fans that the playoff games this weekend are a CHSAA event and not an event hosted by Pagosa Springs High School. Thus, season passes for Pagosa Pirates basketball will not be honored and only CHSAA passes are valid.

Ticket prices at the door are $6 for adults and $5 for kids and seniors.

jim@pagosasun.com

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