The Pagosa Springs Pirates broke even at the Buena Vista Invitational Basketball Tournament last week, falling to the Grand Valley Cardinals on Friday night, but then turning things around Saturday afternoon and beating the Salida Spartans.
The Pirates lost ground quickly Friday night, ending the first quarter with only eight points while allowing the Cardinals to score 19, and by halftime the point spread had widened even further, with a score of 41-22 at the buzzer.
After the break, the Pirates scored 10 more in the third quarter while allowing the Cardinals to score 19. In the fourth quarter, the Pirates managed to score more than they allowed, 19-15, but by then it was too little and too late, making the score 75-51 in the end.
“I feel that I need to become a better coach and teacher,” coach Randy Sorenson lamented, “because I don’t seem to be getting the point across.”
Briar Erskine led the offensive effort with 17 points, including one from the free-throw line, while Keaton Smyth scored 11, including three from outside the three-point line and two out of two from the charity stripe.
“Offensively,” the coach continued, “we struggle taking care of the basketball and we need to find ways to score the basketball.”
Trey Spears also made one from three-point range, while Isaiah Griego scored four out of six free throws, Ty Kimsey scored two out of three, and James Berndt went two for two. All together, the Pirates were successful 79 percent of the time from the free-throw line while the Cardinals only had a 75-percent success rate.
Keaton Laverty, L.J. Smith and Mike Kuhl also contributed one basket each.
Griego pulled down 10 rebounds, Erskine and Luke DeVooght managed six each, while Smyth and Josh Lane each grabbed three. Laverty, Kuhl, Ben Bard, Ethan Brown and Craig Tamburelli got credit for one rebound each.
“Our defense against Grand Valley was not very good at all,” the coach conceded. “We did not get back on defense and gave up a lot of layups in transition. We had a hard time keeping the ball in front of us and we failed to guard shooters.”
In addition, Erskine and Kimsey each got credit for three steals while Smyth got two and Berndt and Lane got one each. As a team, the Pirates committed a total of 13 turnovers.
“We have a lot of things to work on defensively,” Sorenson summarized. “We have been working hard on becoming a better team defensively but so far it hasn’t translated to the games.”
The Pirates jumped to an early lead Saturday afternoon, outscoring the Spartans 11-7 by the end of the first quarter and 19-11 by halftime. After the break, the Pirates continued to widen their lead, scoring 15 in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth, while only allowing nine and five, respectively. The final score was 47-25.
“We played a little better against Salida,” Sorenson went on, “but still not great.”
Offensively, DeVooght led with 10 points, while Erskine had eight, Griego and Spears made five, and Kuhl scored four. Smyth, Brown and Kimsey earned three each, while Bard, Smith and Lane each chalked up two.
The scores for Spears, Kimsey and Griego include a single three-pointer each, and while the team had a decent free-throw percentage the previous night, it dropped to 31 percent during this game.
“We need to become better shooters from the field,” Sorenson stated, “and our free throw shooting needs to improve immensely.”
Erskine, Kuhl and Griego each managed five rebounds; Brown and DeVooght each had four; Spears and Smith had three each; Laverty and Smyth had two each and Bard and Lane each pulled down one.
In addition, Lane and Griego blocked one shot each while Smyth got credit for four steals, DeVooght had three, Spears had two and Tamburelli and Berndt had one each.
“The kids continue to work hard,” the coach commented, “so hopefully their hard work will begin to pay off.”
The Pirates finished the weekend with a 3-2 win-loss record and are now ranked 26th in the state’s 3A division. As far as the Intermountain League is concerned, Monte Vista is at the top with a 6-1 record, Bayfield is next with 2-1 and Alamosa is third with 4-2. Centauri, with a 3-3 record, is the only team in the league behind the Pirates.
“Hopefully we will play well on Friday night against Del Norte,” Sorenson explained, “and go into the Christmas break on a winning note.”
Tomorrow night, the Pirates will have the home-court advantage as they host the Del Norte Tigers at 7 p.m. The Tigers have a 3-2 record as well, but are in the state’s 2A division, whereas the Pirates are 3A. This will be the team’s final game before the holidays.
“During the break we need to continue working hard and try to get some things figured out,” the coach concluded. “It will be nice to have a little time to re-evaluate and try to come up with some ways to improve.”