For the Lady Pirates, the energy from Monday night’s crowd was as big as their win.
With one of the largest and loudest crowds of the season cheering them on, the Pagosa Springs High School girls’ basketball team defeated league rival Centauri High School to take the top league spot heading into the postseason.
“I think our girls really fed off of that,” coach Wes Lewis said of the crowd response.
And while it was a battle to have the weather cooperate for the game to be played (scheduled for four separate dates), the game proved to be an even bigger battle from the beginning.
Centauri scored first in game, with those points not coming until the latter half of the first quarter, and the Falcons took a 5-0 lead with just over three minutes left in the quarter.
A three-pointer by Emily Bryant, which Lewis called, “huge,” put the Pirates on the board, but it was the only basket made by the Pirates in the first quarter, compared to Centauri’s seven points.
Picking up the pressure on the Falcons, the Pirates held their rivals scoreless in the second quarter while scoring seven of their own — five of which came from the hands of Bryant — to take a narrow, 10-7 lead into the second half.
It was in the third quarter that the Pirates began to pull away from the Falcons on the scoreboard.
After allowing Centauri’s Taylor Wilson to score two, the Pirates held the Falcons scoreless for the remainder of the quarter and scored 15 points, helped in part by several steals by freshman Madison Lewis.
The game’s momentum was firmly on the side of the Pirates in the third quarter, with Centauri’s coach Dave Forster garnering a technical for his team that equated to a point from the free-throw line by Pirate Payton Shahan.
Continuing the trend as the fourth quarter started, the Pirates increased their lead to 18 points before relenting and allowing Centauri to score 11 compared to only five scored by the home team.
In the end, Pagosa walked away with a 30-20 victory that extended the team’s win streak to nine, and ended Centauri’s win streak at 14 games.
Lewis praised the team’s offense and defense in the game, stating he felt the team played, “really, really good, especially defensively.”
Lewis also praised the crowd and school, noting the “sea of black” created by students who wore black in order to gain free entry to the game, and the large crowd.
“That was the best crowd we’ve had all year,” Lewis said.
Taylor Strohecker led the team’s scoring effort with 10 points, also notching seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
Bryant scored nine points (including two three-pointers), also tallying two rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block.
Madison Lewis followed with eight points, as well as six steals, two rebounds and two assists.
Shahan scored the remaining three points while going 3-for-4 from the free-throw line. She also notched two rebounds and one assist.
Anissa Lucero contributed one rebound, three assists and one steal. Taylor Lee Hammer added one rebound, one steal and one assist.
Senior Haleigh Zenz added two rebounds and two steals. Morgan Schaaf contributed one rebound.
Overall, the team was 8-for-14 on free throws and tallied 18 turnovers.
The prior Thursday, Pagosa defeated the visiting Monte Vista Pirates, by a final score of 54-21.
Pagosa outscored Monte Vista in all four quarters of the game — 12-8, 12-2, 20-4, 10-7.
“They’re young and they’re rebuilding,” Lewis said of the visiting Pirates, who went winless in conference play this season.
In the game, Strohecker led with 16 points, also adding seven rebounds, three blocks, one steal and three assists.
Shahan followed with 11 points, also rebounding four times, adding three steals and three assists. Bryant was next with nine points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Lucero scored seven in the game, also contributing four steals and two assists. Madison Lewis was next, with six points, three rebounds, four steals and one assist.
Hammer followed with a three-pointer, and one steal. Rounding out the scoring was Zenz with two points, as well as two rebounds, one steal and one assist.
The team went 6-for-7 on free throws in the game.
With each team ending regular season play with 7-1 league records and 17-2 overall records, the Pirates edged out the Falcons for the top spot in the Intermountain League following a series of tie breakers.
With the top seed in hand, the Pirates now face Bayfield (2-6 in league), who defeated Monte Vista 53-28 in Tuesday night’s pigtail game. The game will take place tonight at 6 p.m. in Alamosa, site of the district tournament.
The winner of tonight’s game will play the winner of today’s Centauri-Alamosa matchup on Saturday at 6 p.m. The losing teams from each of today’s games will face off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“I think Bayfield’s a really good basketball team,” Lewis said, calling the Wolverines, “better than their record.”
“We have to go out and take care of business,” Lewis said, noting that his team needed to be tough on half-court defense, stay on position, and beat opposing guards to the basketball in order to be successful on the weekend.