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Pirate girls take two to end 2011, 5-1 record going into 2012

The Pagosa Springs High School girls’ basketball team will head into the new year sporting a 5-1 record and having outscored their opponents 282-171 thus far on the season.

Friday, the Pirates welcomed the Sargent Farmers (3-3) to PSHS for a nonconference match.

Pagosa’s squad got off to a quick start thanks to baskets from Emily Bryant and Ellie McGinn and a free throw from Brooklyn DuCharme before the Farmers successfully navigated the basket with a three-pointer.

The Pirates then returned the favor with two threes from Sienna Espinosa to land the Pirate tally at 11 for the quarter.

Sargent added two baskets in the final 30 seconds of the quarter to end the quarter down 11-7.

The hometown ladies scored another eight points before allowing Sargent to sink another shot.

Despite the game becoming more physical as the quarter progressed, the Pirates held strong, taking a 25-18 lead into halftime.

It was the game’s third quarter that was the most lopsided in favor of the home team, with Pagosa scoring 14 (including eight from DuCharme), versus the Farmers’ four points in the period.

In contrast, the final eight minutes of the game favored the Farmers, who outscored the Pirates 10-7.

Sargent’s ladies were able to match the Pirates point-for-point through much of the half, but Pagosa’s squad failed to capitalize on a number of free-throw attempts, allowing Sargent within 14 as the final buzzer sounded.

In the game, Taylor Strohecker led the Pirate offensive with 14 points (going 4-for-4 on rebounds), also notching seven of the team’s 17 rebounds on the day.

DuCharme contributed a total of 11 points to the scoreboard, including going 5-for-8 from the line. DuCharme followed Strohecker with six rebounds and recorded four steals.

Payton Shahan finished third on the team with seven points on the day and four rebounds, while Espinosa’s two three-pointers were her contribution to the team.

Rounding out the Pirate scoring were McGinn and Bryant with four points each.

Continuing to cause strife for the Pirates were free throws, with the team improving to 10-of-18 from the line.

The next afternoon, the team welcomed the Salida Spartans to the court for the second nonconference affair of the weekend.

The Pirates were strong out of the gate, taking an 11-0 lead (thanks to threes from Bryant, DuCharme and Anissa Lucero and a basket from Strohecker) before surrendering a basket to the Spartans.

Pagosa then continued the offensive, outscoring Salida 16-2 in the initial eight minutes.

The Spartans found the net more in the second quarter, tallying eight, versus the home team’s 12 in the quarter for a halftime score of 28-10 in favor of the Pirates.

Pagosa continued to outscore the Spartans in the second half, 12-6 in the third quarter and 18-4 in the final period thanks to a number of rebounds and steals.

Also aiding the Pirate offensive in the fourth quarter were three three-pointers in a row from Haleigh Zenz, Lucero and Espinosa in the final minutes of the game.

DuCharme was the day’s leading scorer, with 17 points. The senior also notched seven steals, five assists and four rebounds.

Lucero followed with 11 points, Bryant with seven points, Strohecker and Espinosa with six each, Zenz with five, McGinn with four and Shahan with two.

McGinn and Shahan tallied five rebounds each.

On the day, the team was 2-for-8 from the charity stripe, with both points coming from DuCharme, who was 2-for-2 from the line and who is shooting 81 percent on the season in 31 free throws, according to Coach Wes Lewis.

“I feel really good,” Lewis said. “I felt like we played really good on both sides of the basketball.”

Lewis said the biggest frustration on the season is the team’s low free-throw percentage, but that the team is otherwise balanced offensively, as was seen Saturday when Salida shut down much of the opportunity for the Pirates to score inside.

“It’s just a really nice, balanced attack. I’d rather be that way,” Lewis said, adding, “When you can make eight three-pointers by five different players, that’s a real strength and credit to our diversity.”

Lewis said the balance also makes opponents, “choose their poison” in terms of how they play their defense against the Pirates.

After the holidays, the squad will head to Durango to take on the Demons (2-5) Thursday, Jan. 5, at 6 p.m.

Per the Colorado High School Athletics Association, the Pirates’ have only a few, voluntary practices during the holiday break that Lewis said will primarily consist of shooting and conditioning for those able to make it, and the Pirates will return to regular practice on Jan. 3, just before their return to action in what should be a challenging game against the Demon varsity.

“That’ll be a tough game,” Lewis said. “They’ll start three six-footers.”

The Pirates will then head to Salida for another match against the Spartans (2-3) on Jan. 7 at 2:30 p.m.

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