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Pirates top century mark, win Classic

Dominating on offense and defense last Friday night against Dolores, the Pirates managed to do something they had not done in over 20 years — break the century mark — which the Pirates accomplished against the Bears, taking a 102-26 victory.

“Even in the warm-up, it was apparent we were a better team,” said Coach Jim Shaffer. “But I’m proud that our guys did what I told them, that regardless of the score, we were going to play Pirates’ basketball.”

Playing an extremely physical, aggressive game, the Pirates dominated from the beginning. With Tyson Ross hitting three-pointers from the outside (giving fans reason to consider why he has that number on his back), it was the sheer size and intimidation factor of Taylor Shaffer, Jordan Caler and Austin Jones on the inside (and on numerous defensive rebounds) that seemed to blast Dolores out of the water. However, it was the speed and skill of Zach Lucero (taking two stolen balls all the way down for layups) that painted the picture for the Pirates’ victory. Finishing the first period up 33-6, Pagosa had room to breathe.

Playing a patient, skilled and deliberate game in the second quarter, the Pirates merely waited for the Bears to make a mistake before they capitalized, twice or thrice over. With nothing but net, Shaffer put the Pirates up by 50 points at the buzzer, a 64-14 lead at the end of the half.

Coming into the second half, Dolores seemed so demoralized it appeared that they’d become zombies, bushes or the Knights that say Nee!, willing to be cut down, standing around inconsequentially as Pirates ran drills.

Going into the third quarter, Coach Shaffer had the luxury to debut the core of next year’s varsity, with Lucero, Zerek Jones, Daniel Puskas leading the pack. Although all three players got some varsity floor time last year, all three rocked with a new found confidence — and showed a degree of fun in playing the game — leading the team to their unprecedented heights. However, it was Kain Lucero (Zach’s younger brother) who had the hot hand, leading with 20 points for the game.

Again, the Pirates led in scoring, 18-6 in the third, going into the final quarter with a 82-20 stretch that must have been mindboggling for Bear’s coach Justin Schmitt, as his team was outscored 18-6 by Pagosa’s bench.

Scoring another 20 points in the final quarter, the Pirate bench proved that they’re a team to be contended with in years to come. With sophomore Drew Mackey driving the score close to triple digits, it was freshman Clay Ross who eventually put the third digit on the board with a shot on a rebound. Walking away with a 102-26 victory, Pagosa showed they’re a team worthy of 3A recognition.

Regarding the exemplary performance of his bench, Shaffer said, “They got a lot of varsity time and I thought they did a good job not playing down to the other team’s level.”

Second in scoring, with 16 points, Taylor Shaffer led with six assists, while Austin Jones finished third in scoring with 10 points and led the team with two blocked shots. Tyson Ross scored eight points and led the team with nine rebounds.

Coming off their historic victory on Friday, the Pirates carried the momentum of the previous night’s win in their match against the Buena Vista Demons on Saturday night. Seeking revenge (the Demons had defeated Pagosa the previous week in Buena Vista), the Pirates reconciled themselves with a 54-45 win over Buena Vista Saturday night, taking first place in the Wolf Creek Classic.

From the start it was almost all Pagosa, and for the Pirates it was almost all Tyson Ross. Holding the edge on offense and defense, the Pirates outscored the Demons 22-9 in the first quarter, a 13-point lead an edge that Buena Vista was never able to overcome.

Making some adjustments, the Demons managed to work their way into the key during the second quarter, applying some brakes to Pagosa’s offense. Outscoring the Pirates 10-14 in the period, the Demons were still not able to overcome Pagosa’s domination in the first quarter and left the half down 32-23.

“We played a good first quarter but they kind of got us off kilter in the second quarter,” Shaffer said. “Their extra press put us out of our comfort zone.”

In fact, the Demons had their chance with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left in the period as they pulled ahead for the only time in the game. However, back-to-back three pointers from Zach Lucero brought the Pirates back and, while the Pirates were again outscored in a quarter, 13-16, they went into the final period with a 45-39 lead.

“We came out kind of soft in the third quarter,” Shaffer said, “and we let them get ahead, let them do some things offensively.”

However, mistakes hurt the Demons’ chances for a reconciliation in the fourth quarter; with numerous turnovers and the loss of senior standout Josh Morgan (who fouled out at 6:53), Buena Vista appeared to lose their composure. A strong showing by Caler at the finish (eight points and four rebounds for the game) helped the Pirates overtake the Demons at the end, finishing the game with a 54-45 victory.

Tyson Ross led the team with 17 points and six rebounds with Taylor Shaffer also getting six rebounds, scoring seven points and leading the team with five assists. Zach Lucero finished second in scoring with 12 points for the game.

“It was nice to win the Wolf Creek, it’s been a couple of years since we’ve won our own tournament,” Shaffer said.

On Tuesday night, the Pirates took to their home court to tackle the Tigers from Del Norte. Another high-scoring night for the Pirates, the Pagosa boys outgunned the 2A Tigers 90-61 to take their fourth win of the season.

Coming out strong, the Pirates outscored the Tigers 30-11 in the first quarter and 28-14 in the second quarter, leaving the half with a 58-25 lead.

“Offensively,” Shaffer said, “in the first half we played really well.”

However, the Pirates took it down several notches in the second half, giving up 36 points. While Del Norte managed to outscore Pagosa 20-16 in the third quarter, the Tigers tied the Pirates 16-16 in the final period, taking home a 90-61 defeat.

“We lost our focus and concentration in the second half and kind of played down to their level. I wasn’t happy with how we played in the second half,” Shaffer said.

Taylor Shaffer led the team in scoring with 23 points and tied Zach Lucero with six rebounds. Lucero was second in scoring with 14 points, followed closely by Tyson Ross with 13 points and five rebounds.

With Tuesday’s victory, the Pirates hold a .800 win percentage and go into this Saturday’s game with a 4-1 season record.

Hosting a final home game before the Christmas break, the Pirates will meet the undefeated 3A Salida Spartans in a match that should prove to be more of a test than what they faced Tuesday. The Spartans will provide bookend games for Pagosa as the Pirates will travel to Salida for their first game after the break.

The Pirates will take to the floor 7 p.m. Saturday night in the Pagosa Springs High School gym.

jim@pagosasun.com