Pirates shoot for state championship starting today

    SUN photo/Mike Pierce Pagosa’s Morgan Schaaf watches her shot during Friday’s matchup with the Gunnison Cowboys during the first round of state action. Starting today, the Pirates are fighting for the 3A state championship in Colorado Springs.
    SUN photo/Mike Pierce
    Pagosa’s Morgan Schaaf watches her shot during Friday’s matchup with the Gunnison Cowboys during the first round of state action. Starting today, the Pirates are fighting for the 3A state championship in Colorado Springs.

    Staff Writer

    The Pagosa Springs High School Lady Pirates may not have set out with the goal of having an undefeated season last fall, but now the team hopes to round out the season with zero losses and a state title.

    The team is taking a perfect 23-0 record into the final week of the 2013-2014 season, with three games standing between them and the state title.

    “I think that’s a great accomplishment in its own right,” coach Wes Lewis said.

    In order to earn their place among the Great 8 in 3A girls high school basketball, the Pirates defeated two teams at home last weekend as they hosted a portion the first two rounds of the state bracket.

    Due to the team’s travel schedule this week, limited stats on the games were available.

    First off, the girls defeated the No. 31 Gunnison Cowboys by a score of 60-20 Friday evening to earn their spot in the Sweet 16.

    “I thought the girls shot the ball really, really well,” Lewis said, but added the team tried to not show a lot to the other team in the game. “We kept it pretty vanilla.”

    With that 40-point defeat under their belt, the Pirates took on the Trinidad Miners, who defeated the Salida Spartans Friday evening.

    The Miners looked to be tough competition for the Pirates in the first quarter of Saturday’s game, with neither team scoring for over four minutes, and the quarter ending 7-6 in favor of the Pirates.

    The second quarter was more fruitful for both teams, with a halftime score of 28-18 in favor of Pagosa.

    By the third quarter, Pagosa continued to pull ahead of the Miners, scoring 11 points while giving up seven to the Miners.

    In the fourth quarter, however, the Pirates sealed their win by scoring 18 and giving up zero to make the final score 57-25.

    Lewis said the team had key turnovers early in the game and Trinidad hit some shots, making it a close, scrappy game at the start.

    “It took a little while to get going,” Lewis said.

    The win propels the Pirates into the Great 8 for this week’s 3A state championship being held at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs starting today (Thursday).

    Lewis also recognized the support of the fans throughout the girls’ successful season.

    “We’d sure like to thank our crowd,” Lewis noted. “We still appreciate all the support we had all year long at home.”

    Heading into this week’s tournament, Lewis said the team has two key strengths — defense and depth — which have both been on display throughout the season.

    “I think our defense is really good,” Lewis said. “I think it’s proven that night in and night out. I think that’s probably one of our biggest strengths, for sure.”

    Too, a strong varsity roster gives the team power beyond its starters, Lewis noted.

    “I know that every point’s going to matter,” Lewis said of the upcoming competition, adding that the team will need to shoot well from the free-throw line (in the 65 to 75 percent range).

    While the team has not played many close games this season, Lewis said he’s not worried. The team also plays together in a summer league where they played several close games, and the team’s core eight players played close games in last year’s varsity competition.

    “These kids are … very tough mentally,” Lewis said, adding, “They won’t fold under pressure.”

    And, the team is taking it one game at a time.

    “Our biggest game is the next one on our schedule,” Lewis said.

    For the Great 8, the Pirates will face Manitou Springs, who entered the first round of playoffs ranked seventh out of 32 teams.

    “They’re a good basketball team; they beat Lamar, so we know they’re good,” Lewis said of the Manitou Springs Mustangs.

    The Mustangs are a young squad, Lewis noted, with many freshmen and sophomores, as well as size and good shooters.

    “They’ll be a team we’re really gonna have to play well against to be successful,” Lewis said.

    Looking at common opponents between the two teams, the Mustangs split a two-game series with Salida on the year, beat Buena Vista twice, and beat Trinidad once.

    The other Great 8 matchups include Holy Family versus Eaton, Peak to Peak versus Lamar, and Bishop Machebeuf vs. Sterling.

    Tournament schedule:

    The Pirates’ potential tournament schedules are as follows:

    The Pirates face off against Manitou Springs Thursday (today) at 7 p.m.

    If the Pirates defeat Manitou Springs, they will move on to face the winner of the Bishop Machebeuf-Sterling game at 4 p.m. Friday.

    Should the Lady Pirates continue their winning ways Friday, they would move on to the championship Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

    If the Pirates were to lose Friday, they would play for third place Saturday at 1 p.m.

    Should the girls lose to Manitou Springs on Thursday, they would play the loser of the Bishop Machebeuf-Sterling game at 11:45 a.m. Friday.

    The winner of that game will go on to battle for fifth place Saturday at 9 a.m.