Pirates maintain unbeaten league record

The Pirate basketball team played three games in the last week, winning two and losing one.

Dipping below the .500 mark for their overall season record, the Pirate boys were stung by the Scorpions in Farmington, N.M. last Thursday.

Despite the setback, Coach Jim Shaffer was nonetheless pleased by his team’s performance, saying, “We played a lot better than we have lately, I was really happy.”

Playing a tight first quarter, Pagosa found itself down a single bucket at the end of the period, with Farmington holding a 12-10 lead.

Unphased by the narrow deficit, the Pirates turned up the heat on Farmington, outscoring the Scorpions 15-12 in the quarter and leading their opponents 25-24 at the end of the first half.

Although outscoring the Scorpions in the third period 12-11 to gain a 2-point edge at the end of the quarter, turnovers, unfortunately, set the pace for an eventual slide. “We had seven to eight turnovers in the third quarter,” said Shaffer, “And that really hurt us.”

Still up by 3 late in the fourth, the Pirates were unable to capitalize on offensive rebounds, allowing the Scorpions to regain the lead. Outscoring the Pirates 21-11 in the final period, Farmington was able to maneuver into a 56-48 victory over Pagosa in the final minutes of the game.

“If we’d just rebounded offensively and controlled the basketball, we would have won,” Shaffer said, “Turnovers and rebounds hurt us in the end.”

The Pirates had a mediocre 49 percent from the field but an outstanding 80 percent from the free-throw line.

Senior pointman John Jewell led the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Jordan Caler finished with 9 points and led the team with five assists. Senior Sackett Ross finished third in scoring for the Pirates, with 7 points, followed by junior Dakota Ross with 6 points.

The Pirates then went back to Intermountain League action Saturday, traveling to Monte Vista and getting the 69-62 win.

“We did really well,” said coach Jim Shaffer, “Up 25-18 at the end of the first quarter, it was, by far, the best quarter we’ve played all year.”

Having put a sufficient scare into their opponents, the Pirates got more than their share of comeuppance when Monte Vista fired up the floor and took the initiative away from Pagosa. Outscoring their marauding visitors 21-12 in the second period, Monte Vista left the half with a 39-37 lead.

“We weren’t very patient, offensively, we took some bad shots,” Shaffer said, regarding the turnaround in the second quarter. During half-time, Shaffer said, “We talked about some things, made some adjustments.”

Whatever was said in the locker room, those words apparently got the Pirates back on track. Pagosa came out swinging in the third period, holding Monte Vista to just 5 points, while scoring 21 of their own to take back the lead, 58-44 at the end of the quarter.

“We executed offensively, passed to our big scorers. The kids did some good things, defensively,” said the coach.

Although outscored 11-18 in the final period, Pagosa held onto their lead, bringing home a 69-62 victory and a still-perfect conference record (and .500 overall, with a 7-7 standing).

Despite middling numbers from the field (45 percent) and from the free-throw line (48 percent), the Pirates’ defense managed to keep Monte Vista from dominating the boards in a largely offensive game. Jewell led the Pirates in scoring with 19 points for the game. Tyson Ross, with three blocked shots, and junior Jordan Caler followed in scoring, both finishing with 13 points each. Leading the team with six assists, junior Taylor Shaffer finished fourth in scoring, with 12 points.

“We hung on to win in a tough environment,” the coach said, pleased with the Pirates’ big conference win, “The place was packed and Monte had only lost one game since we’d seen them last.”

Staying in the winning column, the Pirates hosted Mancos Tuesday.

The Pirate boys finished with a score against the Bluejays that would make many college teams proud. Never in danger of losing control of the game, Pagosa outscored Mancos every quarter and dominated every aspect of the floor.

“It’s good to play a game like that every once in awhile,” said coach Jim Shaffer.

Playing a tight first quarter that was in no way portentous of the final result, the Pirates led Mancos 12-9 at the end of the period. Exploding offensively in the second, Pagosa scored 30 points while allowing just 8 Mancos points, leaving the half with a commanding 42-17 lead.

With 38 rebounds in the game, Pagosa prevented Mancos from capitalizing on any missed shots. If a shot didn’t drop in the bucket, the Bluejays essentially lost any claim to the ball.

Holding Mancos to single digits for a third straight quarter, the Pirates continued their onslaught, putting 17 points on the board while only allowing 9 Mancos points. Roaring into the final period with a 59-26 lead, the Pirates prevented a Mancos bucket for almost 3 minutes, while racking up 9 points of their own. With Pagosa JV players taking the floor en masse and over 6 minutes left in the game, Pagosa held onto a preposterous 42 point lead that only grew in the final minutes of the game. Outscoring the Bluejays 26-14 in the fourth, the Pirates finished with their highest scoring game of the season, 85-40 over Mancos.

Of a dozen Pirate standouts, junior Austin Jones and Jewell led in scoring, with 14 points each (Jewell also led the team with eight rebounds), followed by Caler with 10 points. Tyson Ross scored 9 points, followed by freshman Curt Lewis and Shaffer (who led the Pirates with 11 assists) scoring 8 points each.

With a respectable 52 percent from the field and an impressive 68 percent from the free-throw line, the Pirate boys moved back into the winning column, standing at 8-7 overall for the season.

Tomorrow night, the Pirates will host the Centauri Falcons in the PSHS gymnasium for a second match of the season. The game begins at 7 p.m. and will offer local fans a chance to watch the Pirates solidify a perfect conference record. Although the Pirates pinioned the Falcons 57-39 during their last outing, Pagosa is leaving little to chance for their next-to-last conference game.

Looking ahead to the Friday conference game, Shaffer expressed confidence, if not cautious optimism.

“We beat them on their home court,” said Shaffer, when asked about his boy’s shot at going 5-0 in conference, “But we’re leaving nothing to chance, anything could happen.

“They’re a well-coached team that always plays hard. They’re a very good team, defensively, and we’ll have to make some adjustments.”

jim@pagosasun.com


SUN photo/Pat Artis
Pagosa Springs High School junior Jordan Caler goes for an easy layup against a Mancos Bluejay defender. The Pirate boys varsity squad annihilated Mancos 85-40 during a home game Tuesday night in the PSHS gymnasium.