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Pirate boys make short work of opponents

Beginning their week ranked No. 5 in Class 3A (in the Denver Post poll), the Pirates swept last week’s series of games without breaking much of a sweat, exterminating the Farmington Scorpions 60-42 last Thursday, sinking the Monte Vista Pirates 81-29 on Saturday (both games at home), and mauling the Mancos Bluejays 76-39 while on the road.

Aside from problems with passing last Thursday, the Pirates were on board with everything else, combining tough defense with a quick offense to easily crush the Scorpions. Sophomore Tyson Ross came out strong and fast, racking up nine points in the first minutes of the game, helping the Pirates get out to an 11-0 lead before Farmington was able to finally put some points on the board 4 minutes, 45 seconds into the game. The Pirates dominated the opening quarter, outscoring the Scorpions 23-12.

Turning down the intensity a bit in the second quarter (there was no score for almost two minutes), the Pirates held on defense and outscored Farmington 11-8 in the period, leaving the half with a 34-20 lead.

Continuing to keep the Scorpion’s offense on the outside, the Pirates outpaced Farmington once again on offense, leading 13-6 in scoring and going into the final period with a 47-26 lead.

The lead was good enough for coach Jim Shaffer to send JV players onto the floor for most of the last quarter. Given that edge, Farmington managed to outscore the Pirates 16-13 in the last period, but it was not nearly enough to bring the Scorpions within striking distance and the Pirates took the easy 60-42 victory.

“In stretches, I thought we played as well as we have all year,” Shaffer said. “We just need to sustain those stretches where we’re playing well and be more consistent.”

Ross led the team with 16 points, six rebounds and four steals, while Jordan Caler followed with 15 points. Taylor Shaffer finished with 14 points and tied Kain Lucero with five assists.

The Pirates returned Saturday night to overwhelm a winless (0-14) Monte Vista team.

Numerous problems plagued Monte Vista, preventing them from ever really getting into the game. Playing a zone defense bunched up inside the key, Monte allowed far too many shots from just outside the paint. Adding to their woes, numerous Monte turnovers and penalties (from mistakes and not an overly aggressive game) gave the Pirates a further advantage, largely unnecessary as Pagosa was already meeting Monte with a faster, much more athletic and confident team.

Unable to finish shots, Monte didn’t score a single point from the field until the 6 minute, 20 second mark in the third quarter. Shut out 15-0 in the first period, Monte scored five points in the second — all off free throws and ended the half down 36-5.

Looking back on the game, Shaffer said, “We didn’t play very well offensively in the first half. We need to not get caught up in who we’re playing and play Pirates’ basketball.”

Midway through the third period, Shaffer began filling the floor with JV players. Monte still couldn’t produce, outscored 28-11 in the quarter and 17-13 in the final period, giving the Pirates a strong 81-29 finish.

Leading the team in scoring, freshman Kain Lucero finished with 16 points (more than half scored on a 3-point hat trick) and nine steals. Jordan Caler had 12 points followed closely by Tyson Ross with 11 points, eight rebounds and an impressive seven steals. Zach Lucero led with six assists and finished with 10 points.

Dominating every quarter on Tuesday in Mancos, the Pirates swatted down the Bluejays with no problem. Outscoring Mancos 14-6, 20-7, 23-14 and 19-12, the Pirates gave the Jays a frightful plucking, ending the night with 76-39 victory and ended the week with a 12-3 overall record, 4-0 in a conference with no substantial competition.

The Pirates travel to La Jara on Friday for a rematch against the 5-9 Centauri Falcons. In Pagosa Springs on Jan. 26, the Pirates handed the Falcons a 66-45 defeat and while a game in La Jara could be tough, the Pirates only need to continue playing with the kind of speed, athleticism and teamwork that has made them conference leaders.

Returning home for their final season home game, the Pirates host the 1-9 Cortez Panthers at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

jim@pagosasun.com