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Pirates win two on the road, host IML tourney

Finishing up their season with two big wins on the road, the Pirates head into the IML tournament tomorrow night with a perfect 6-0 conference record and 16-3 for the season.

Defeating league rivals the Wolverines 74-56 in Bayfield last Friday night, the Pirates travelled a bit farther on Saturday night; Pagosa won a narrow 51-49 victory against the Scorpions in Farmington, N.M.

Having lost 87-33 in Pagosa on Jan. 29, the Wolverines brought a tougher game on Friday night, but not nearly enough to stop the Pirates. Tough on defense against a slow-to-start Pagosa offense, the Wolverines held the Pirates to just 14 points in the first quarter, but only scored nine of their own. However, the Pirates caught fire in the second quarter, outscoring the Wolverines 22-13 and leaving the half with a 36-22 lead.

Despite the spread, Coach Jim Shaffer said, “It was competitive for most of three quarters.”

Carrying their momentum into the third quarter, the Pirates overwhelmed a mostly ineffective Bayfield defense again, outscoring the Wolverines 20-10. Attempting a late game rally, the Wolverines finally managed to outscore the Pirates 24-18 in the fourth quarter. Too little, too late. Bayfield lost 74-56 in their season finale.

Taylor Shaffer and Austin Jones led in scoring, each with 18 points in the game, with Shaffer also leading with nine assists. Tyson Ross led with nine rebounds, finished third with 12 points and tied Jones in steals with three each.

Playing their season closer in Farmington on Saturday night, the Pirates nearly lost their edge in the third quarter, but managed to hold on to defeat the 4A Scorpions. Playing a tough first half, the Pirates managed to hold the edge, outscoring the Scorpions 15-12 in the first quarter and 15-9 in the second, leading 30-21 at halftime.

“It was good to play that close a game,” Coach Shaffer said. “Good to get our guys to execute in a tight spot.”

The Scorpions stung back in the third quarter, however, going for 19 points in the period while holding the Pirates to just 12, narrowing the score to just a single basket and making it a 42-40 game going into the fourth.

Down by two late in the half, the Pirates looked to squander their opportunity.

“They (Farmington) went on a run where they shot the ball really well,” the coach explained. “We just didn’t do a very good job, defensively. At the same time, we didn’t execute very well.”

Fortunately, the Pirates held onto that narrow lead by the skin of their teeth, matching basket for basket and holding their edge with a 9-9 quarter and winning 51-49.

“The last four minutes was close,” Coach Shaffer said. “It was good to get our guys out there and play a tough game.”

Ross led in scoring with 14 points as well as stealing three Scorpion possessions. Jones finished second with nine points and led with six rebounds while Shaffer finished eight points, leading the team with seven assists.

Tonight, Pagosa Springs hosts the IML tournament.

At 6 p.m., the Wolverines (6-13 overall, 3-3 in conference) face a 1-17, 1-4 Monte Vista team.

The Pirates take the floor at 7:30 p.m. to face the 5-9, 1-4 Centauri Falcons.

The winners of tonight’s games face each other at 7:30 p.m. Saturday to determine who wears the IML tourney crown.

Tickets are $6 for adult, $5 for students and senior citizens. Only CHSAA passes and Colorado High School Coaches Association passes can be used — League passes and family passes will not be honored.

jim@pagosasun.com