Last week’s clear skies and dry roads meant basketball fans in Pagosa Country finally got some action after a heavy snowstorm the previous weekend dumped 48 inches of powder on Wolf Creek Pass, keeping the Falcons from leaving Centauri and giving the Pagosa Springs Pirates an unexpected break.
If anything, the lull just made the boys even more hungry and fired up, as they schooled Bayfield Friday night, then avenged their only league defeat against Alamosa in a Saturday rematch.
“We felt like Bayfield would come out and play us tough,” Coach Randy Sorenson said, “and they did exactly that.”
The Pirates jumped to an early lead over the Wolverines, doubling their score 18-9 in the first quarter and maintaining a 30-20 lead going into halftime.
“They played a good first half against us,” Sorenson continued, “but we were able to have a strong third quarter and pull away.”
The Pirates dominated early after the half, adding 22 more points to their side of the board in the third quarter while only giving up six, and even though things evened out in the last quarter, with the Wolverines scoring one more point than the Pirates, 25-24, it still wasn’t enough to turn things around, with the final victory going to the Pirates, 76-51.
“They are a pretty good basketball team,” Sorenson said, crediting the Wolverines. “They just seem to have some difficulty closing out games. They have had chances to win a few, but for whatever reason they have struggled at the end of games.”
The Wolverines haven’t won any of their six leagues games and only have two victories overall, suffering their 16th defeat of the season at the hands of the Pirates.
At 76 points, this was the Pirates’ second highest scoring game behind the Dec. 14 game against the Denver Science and Tech Stapleton Knights, where they scored 78 points.
Kain Lucero dominated on offense with 30 points total, including six 3-pointers and eight out of eight free-throws, but he wasn’t a ball hog; he also got credit for 11 assists.
Zachariah Griego scored 19 points and had three assists, Dean Hampton scored eight and had five assists, and Quinn Smith scored seven with one assist.
At the other end of the court, Garek Erskine had seven rebounds, eight blocked shots and one steal. Griego also had seven rebounds, stole the ball twice and blocked one shot.
“We gave up 25 in the fourth quarter to Bayfield,” said Sorenson, “so that is a major concern. If we are going to keep being successful, we are going to have to be more consistent.”
“The Alamosa game was another good basketball game between two good teams,” Sorenson explained. “Alamosa has a lot of talent and are well coached, as we have said before. They play hard and they will fight until the end. We gave up 23 points in the second quarter, which easily could have done us in.”
The Pirates fought hard to gain a three-point lead by the end of the first quarter, but by the end of the first half it looked like it was going to be a repeat of the Feb. 1 game as the Maroons jumped ahead, 32-27.
“Luckily our defense was better in the second half,” Sorenson explained, “and we were able to hold on at the end.”
The Pirate armada sailed out of the locker room after the halftime break and successfully established an almost impenetrable blockade, holding the Maroons to only two points in the third quarter and three in the fourth, while scoring 20 more points themselves, for a 47-37 final score.
“It was a huge win for us,” Sorenson concluded, “against a good team. The kids did a really nice job of finding a way to win. As I have said before, they are a special group.”
Griego outpaced Lucero for this game, scoring 18 points total with two out of four free-throws, while Lucero had 12, including one 3-pointer, one out of three free-throws, and three assists.
Smith made nine points and offered two assists, Erskine scored five points and gave three assists, and Hampton scored two while getting credit for four assists.
On defense, Erskine had eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Griego, Lucero and Smith each had five rebounds, and Lucero and Hampton had three steals each.
“We have two tough games again this week,” Sorenson forecasted. “Monte Vista is a team that just gets better and better, and they will be tough to beat in their new gym.”
While the Monte Vista Pirates are 3-3 in league play, have a 9-7 record overall, and are ranked 31st in the state 3A division — according to the CBS Sports website, MaxPreps — they have a record of 4-2 when they have the home court advantage. Pagosa beat Monte 60-44 during their first matchup on Feb. 2, but that game was played here.
The Pirates versus Pirates game will take place in Monte Vista today at 4 p.m., then the Falcons will be in Pagosa tomorrow night at 7 p.m. to make up the game cancelled two weeks ago because of the snowstorm.
“Centauri is another good team that plays really hard,” Sorenson admitted, “and they could be dangerous. They will pressure you, and if they get going shooting the ball, they are hard to stop.”
MaxPreps has Centauri ranked ninth in the state 3A division with a 4-2 league record and 13-4 overall, while Colorado Preps has them ranked eighth, and the Denver Post Coaches’ Poll puts them in seventh place.
The Pirates are ranked second on MaxPreps and sixth on Colorado Preps, but only get an honorable mention from the Denver Post poll.
“Both Monte Vista and Centauri have beaten Alamosa,” Sorenson concluded, “so we had better be prepared. We need to be playing our best basketball of the season now. Everyone is going to be out to beat us so we cannot afford to have any letdowns. We control our own destiny so hopefully that will be our motivation.”