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Pirate girls sweep tourney, remain undefeated

The Pirate girls dominated last weekend in La Jara, taking the Intermountain League tournament crown with two wins.

On Thursday, the Pirates defeated the Bayfield Wolverines 52-35. Later that evening, the Centauri Falcons beat the Monte Vista Pirates 53-50, pitting the Falcons against Pagosa in Saturday’s championship round; the Pirates prevailed against Centauri 52-30, taking the IML crown for their second straight year.

Thursday’s match against the Wolverines looked to be a defensive battle, with Bayfield holding the Pirates to single digits during the first two quarters. The Wolverines held the Pirates to just nine points in the first quarter while being limited to just five points of their own. The second quarter was almost a mirror image of the first, with Bayfield scoring nine points and holding the Pirates to just six, going into the half with Pagosa leading 15-14.

“I felt we came out a little sluggish, a little rusty,” explained coach Wes Lewis. “We hadn’t played in about 10 days.”

Bayfield’s defense fell apart in the second half, however, while the Pirates held their own. Holding the Wolverines to nine points for the second straight quarter, the Pirates scored 18, going into the fourth with 33-23 lead.

Lewis attributed the score more to the Pirate’s performance than a lapse in Bayfield’s defense.

“We just started doing things better,” he said.

At that point, Bayfield appeared to have lost steam and the ability to bring back the defensive strength it showed in the first half. Allowing 17 Pagosa points, the Wolverines scored only 12 in the final quarter, giving the Pirates a 52-35 victory and the opportunity to play in Saturday’s championship round.

Mary Brinton led the Pirates with 25 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots. Breezy Bryant finished second in scoring with 10 points and led the team with five assists as well as scoring three steals. Also with three steals, Brooklynn DuCharme finished third in scoring with nine points.

Lewis acknowledged the stellar performance by Magan Kraetsch.

“She played great defense against Candace Shaw, a girl who has averaged around twenty points a game,” he said. “In three games, Magan has held her to six points twice and eight points once.”

On Saturday, the Wolverines took third place in the tournament, beating Monte Vista 57-46 in the Saturday afternoon consolation round.

The Pirates were never in trouble during the championship match against the Centauri Falcons Saturday night.

“We came out and just really played a good game all around,” Lewis said.

Scoring 14 points in both quarters of the first half, the Pirates held the Falcons to just five in the first and 11 in the second, leaving the half with a 28-16 lead.

“We kind of had a mental lapse in the last two minutes of the second quarter,” Lewis said, explaining that there some confusion on defensive positions that allowed Centauri several points late in the quarter.

Lewis added that the confusion was cleared up at halftime, as evidenced by the Pirates’ domination of the floor during the third quarter. Outscoring the Falcons 16-5 in the period, going into the fourth with a commanding 44-21 lead. With JV players taking the floor in the final minutes, Pagosa held the Falcons to nine points while scoring eight of their own to take the IML crown with a 52-30 victory,

Brinton led the team with 28 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. DuCharme was second in scoring with 10 points, while freshman Taylor Strohecker finished third in scoring with seven points.

“Taylor Strohecker gave us some good minutes in the paint,” Lewis said. “I’m really proud of her.”

“It was just a team effort,” Lewis said regarding the championship match. “We did some really good things and played as a team.”

Both of Pagosa’s IML tournament opponents earned a playoff berth for this weekend. The 9-13 Wolverines travel to Olathe tomorrow to face the fifth-ranked Olathe Pirates (18-4) in the first round of the state playoffs. The 14-7 Falcons travel to Denver tomorrow to face the ninth-ranked Valley Vikings (15-7) from Gilcrest

Tomorrow, the 20-0 Pirates host the 30th-ranked 8-15 Buena Vista Demons at 6 p.m. Friday night for the first round of the state playoffs, a team the Pirates beat 53-33 in their second game of the season (Dec. 4).

“We beat them by twenty points earlier in the season,” Lewis said. “But they’ve made a lot of improvement.”

At 2 p.m. Friday, the 14th-ranked Gunnison Cowboys (15-7) challenge the 19th-ranked 16-6 Clear Creek (Idaho Springs) Goldiggers. Winners of tomorrow’s games will play at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon and the winner of that game will move to play in Fort Collins in the Thursday, March 10 “Great Eight” first round.

“We beat Gunnison by ten for our first game of the season,” Lewis said, “but they’ve got a lot of size and they have a pretty nice record in a tough league.”

Lewis also reported that Clear Creek sports some bigs, saying, “They’ve got some size, six-three and six-one girls.”

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.

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