The first weekend of post-season action was a mixed bag for the Pagosa Springs Pirates as the boys soundly defeated the Bayfield Wolverines on Friday night, but then were narrowly defeated by the Alamosa Maroons on Saturday.
“Bayfield upset Monte Vista in the pigtail game,” Coach Randy Sorenson explained, “so they were our first opponent in the league tournament. They have improved a lot and they made us work to get a victory.”
Still, the Pirates dominated in all four quarters: 12-9, 21-14, 11-9, and even 17-13 in the last quarter where they have traditionally put in some of the younger players and allowed the score to even out a bit.
“We were able to handle our business and pull away for a win,” Sorenson said. “We were able to get all of the kids into the game and save our starters a little bit of energy.”
Kain Lucero led the offense with 17 points, including three 3-pointers and four out of four free-throws, and got credit for eight assists. Garek Erskine earned 14 points and one assist, Quinn Smith had 11 points and two assists, and Zachariah Griego made 9 points and offered two assists.
On defense, Smith had seven rebounds and one steal; Griego had six rebounds and three steals; and Erskine had two rebounds, two steals and four blocked shots.
Things didn’t go quite so smoothly the next night.
“The Alamosa game was a great defensive battle,” Sorenson admitted. “Neither team could get much going offensively. Give them a lot of credit; they always play us tough and they gave us fits.”
The Pirates only managed to get four points on the board by the end of the first quarter. Fortunately, they only allowed the Maroons to have three. By the end of the half the score was tied up, 9-9.
“We were tentative on offense and allowed their pressure to get to us again,” Sorenson confessed.
After halftime, the Pirates doubled their score in the third quarter, but couldn’t contain the Maroons, who added 14 points to their score. The Pirates rallied in the last quarter and managed to tie the score back up in the last few seconds of the game.
“Our free throw shooting really hurt us again as we were 1 for 8 from the line,” Sorenson pointed out. “We had a chance to win at the end, but we had a shot go in and out. They got the rebound and called time out with three seconds to go. We then gave up a long pass for a layup at the buzzer to allow them to win by two.”
Alamosa squeaked by with a 28-26 win.
Lucero scored 11 and gave 6 assists, while Smith scored six, Hampton and Griego earned four each, and Erskine made one. Smith and Griego each had a chance at two free-throws but missed all of them, and Erskine missed three out of four from the line.
“If we are going to advance in the playoffs we are going to have to fix some things fast,” Sorenson said. “At this point most of it seems to be mental.”
The Pirates approach tomorrow night’s game against the Florence Huskies knowing they have dropped in the class 3A rankings from second to sixth (while Alamosa has risen to seventh), but also knowing they will have the home court advantage.
“Even though we lost,” Sorenson explained, “the seeding committee must have felt, due to our good record, we should be given one of the two at-large bids to host. We feel very lucky to have gotten this opportunity, and hopefully we can take advantage of it.”
The Huskies are ranked 38th in the state for 3A with a 5-7 league record and 9-13 overall.
“As of this time we are busy preparing for Florence,” Sorenson said, “which will be a tough test. At this point of the season all of the teams are good so we had better be at our best if we want to continue to play. We cannot have letdowns of any type.”
Before the Pirates take on the Huskies, the other tournament game taking place in Pagosa tomorrow will be between the University Bulldogs from Greely and the Dolores Huerta Prep Scorpions from Pueblo. The winners from those two games will face off at 3 p.m. on Saturday for the regional championship.
Said Sorenson, “It should be an exciting weekend in Pagosa as both the girls and boys teams will host. Hopefully we can get lots of fans out to the games as it should be very entertaining. We would like to congratulate our girls and their coaching staff as they have had a very successful season. They should be commended.”