It was a busy week for the Pagosa Springs Pirates as the boy hoopsters hit the road three times, visiting Sargent on Thursday night, Centauri Saturday and Ignacio on Tuesday. All three games were victories for the Pirates, who are ranked second in the state in the 3A division, according to the Denver Post’s coaches’ poll.
First, the Farmers
“We had a feeling that Sargent would come out early and try to slow the game down,” coach Randy Sorenson explained, “and that is exactly what they did. They were very patient offensively and tried to take time off of the clock with each possession.”
It was a very low scoring game in the first half, with the Farmers taking the lead by a small margin in the first quarter, 8-7, and increasing that lead slightly by halftime, where the score was 22-20.
“They got the lead early,” Sorenson confessed, “so they were able to continue to play that way until we were able to finally get the lead late in the game. Admittedly we came out flat and did not play well early. We feel a lot of that was due to coming off of a tough loss to Durango on Tuesday night.”
The Pirates suffered their first loss of the season, 52-44, last week against the Demons, who were finally able to take advantage of some of the weaknesses in the Pirate defense that Sorenson had been fretting over all year.
“That is still no excuse to play the way we did early in the game,” Sorenson admitted. “Once we got the lead we were able to play more the way we wanted to and were able to win going away.”
The Pirates came out of the locker room after halftime with their heads and hearts back in the game, outscoring the farmers 16-12 in the third quarter and 23-7 in the fourth, making the final score 59-41.
Kain Lucero earned 14 points with two three-pointers and two out of six free-throws, while Quinn Smith had 13 points, Garek Erskine had 11, Dean Hampton had seven, DeAngelo Guthrie had six, and Zachariah Griego had five.
Erskine shined on defense with 10 rebounds and six blocked shots, Griego had seven rebounds and one blocked shot, and Smith and Guthrie each had five rebounds.
Next, the Falcons
“In the Centauri game we came out and played well early,” Sorenson said, “and we were pretty much able to control the rest of the game.”
The Pirates dominated the first three quarters, 17-3, 17-15 and 21-2, but then let the Falcon have 19 points in the last quarter while only making nine of their own. Still it wasn’t enough for the Falcons to even come close to catching up, with a final score resting at 64-39.
“Defensively, we were able to keep them from getting good looks from the perimeter, which is the strength of their team,” Sorenson explained, “and our interior defense was really good so they had a hard time attacking the basket.”
Erskine, for example, had 12 blocked shots and nine rebounds. Griego had 11 rebounds and one blocked shot. Lucero had two steals and six rebounds.
“Offensively, we were able hit some shots from the outside,” Sorenson said, “which then allowed us to use our size and get the ball into the post.”
Lucero hit six out of six shots from three-point range, which contributed to his leading score of 27 points total. Hampton had 13, Erskine and Callaway Manly each had seven, and Luke Devooght had five.
“The kids played really well, but we still have lots of room for improvement,” Sorenson said. “Centauri is a tough place to play and that was our first league win there in three years, so it was nice to get out of their alive.”
Finally, the Bobcats
The Pirates travelled to Ignacio Tuesday night and once again beat the Bobcats, this time 63-49. The point spread is a little surprising considering the Bobcats had the home court advantage, whereas earlier in the season, when they played the Pirates in Pagosa, the score was much closer at 53-50.
However, “It was another great game between Pagosa and Ignacio,” Sorenson claimed. “Ignacio came out hot and they were making shots from everywhere. We struggled getting out to shooters in our zone defense and when we switched to playing man defense we struggled with allowing them to penetrate and kick to shooters or throwing it into the post players inside and then kicking it out to shooters.”
As of press time Wednesday afternoon, there were still no individual stats posted.
“We were behind by at least 12 points at one point in the second quarter,” said. Sorenson. “We were able to make a little run at the end of the half and cut the lead to four points by halftime. We felt like this was a turning point in the game. We called timeout with five minutes and thirty-five seconds to go in the second quarter and basically told the kids it was now or never, and they responded.”
In the second half, the Pirate defense was better, and Ignacio cooled off a bit, so Pagosa was able to get the lead and hold it for the rest of the game.
“Kain (Lucero) and Garek (Erskine) hit some big shots down the stretch,” Sorenson said, “and Garek had some big blocks that really helped turn the game around. All of the kids played really well and they all contributed. They maintained their composure throughout the game. They stuck together as good teams do and they found a way to win. Give them credit; they are a special group of young men.”
The Pirates continue league play tomorrow when they travel to Bayfield. Then, on Feb. 1, they travel to Alamosa before they finally get to return to their own gym on Feb. 2 to face Monte Vista.