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Pirate girls, boys win first league games of season

The Pirates moved up in state rankings this week after the girls and boys both scored wins in Monte Vista Saturday in their first Intermountain League matches of the season.

In a close and important contest against a tough 10-1 competitor, the girls managed to squeak out a narrow 43-40 win in Monte Vista, while the boys had no problems with a hapless 0-11 team and headed home with a 82-34 victory.

Facing a team with two state-ranked players, the girls had their hands full on defense — and managed to shut down half of Monte Vista’s one-two punch. With Megan Bryant, Victoria Espinosa and Brooklyn DuCharme containing Monte Vista’s Liz Schaefer (holding her to a season-low two points for the game), the Pirates were able to free up Breezy Bryant and Mary Brinton to pace Mandy Aguilar throughout the game.

Coming out strong, the Pirates took an early lead, outscoring Monte Vista 11-4 in the first quarter. Returning the favor, Monte Vista came back in the second quarter with a tough defense and a characteristically strong offensive attack, outscoring Pagosa 16-8 in the second quarter and leaving the half with a 20-19 lead.

Monte Vista retained that momentum in the third period, holding the Pirates to 10 points while scoring 12 of their own. The Pirates adjusted in the final quarter, however; down by 11 at one point, Pagosa scrambled to regain the early lead, eventually taking back the game. Outscoring Monte Vista 14-8 in the final period, the Pirates managed the close 43-40 win.

“It was a back-and-forth win,” said Coach Wes Lewis. “We figured out how to get ahead in the first quarter and hang on to win.”

Brinton led the Pirates with 18 points, 21 rebounds and 10 blocks.

“Mary was always good in the post position,” Lewis said.

Breezy Bryant was second in scoring for Pagosa, racking up 11 points, nine rebounds and leading the team with four steals; Espinosa logged three assists and scored five points for the game.

Moving up to 8-1 for the season, the Pirates are ranked No. 8 in state 3A polls.

Also moving up in polling, the Pirate boys improved to 7-2 after demolishing Monte Vista 82-34 in a game where Pagosa was never seriously challenged; outscoring Monte Vista 16-5 in the first quarter and 24-4 in the second, the Pirates left the half with a 40-9 lead at the end of the half.

Again outscoring their opponents in the third quarter, 29-12, the Pirates left Monte Vista too much ground to make up. While the teams tied 13-13 in scoring during the final period, the Pirates were never in trouble of dropping the ball and left Monte Vista with a 82-34 victory, a 7-2 record for the season and ranked six in state 3A.

“We got off to a little bit of a slow start,” said Coach Jim Shaffer, “but we made a couple of adjustments.”

With 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists, Taylor Shaffer was the night’s leader for the Pirates. Jordan Caler finished second in scoring while Zach Lucero (with six steals) and Daniel Puskas tied for third in scoring with 11 points each.

Tuesday’s match against Cortez was cancelled due to snow and the game has been tentatively rescheduled for Feb. 2 in the Pagosa Springs High School gym. The Pirates will host the Centauri Falcons Saturday night, with the girls taking the floor at 5:30 p.m. and the boys following with a 7 p.m. conference match.

jim@pagosasun.com