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Pirate boys win IML, host playoff action tomorrow, Saturday

The Pirates made good on the promise they’ve shown all season, winning the 2010 Intermountain League tournament with a 70-48 victory over the Centauri Falcons last Friday night and 90-47 win over the Bayfield Wolverines Saturday night.

Ending a season that found Pagosa Springs dominating the conference — the Pirates outscored their IML opponents by 225 points during the regular season — there should have been few doubts which team would end up taking the conference crown.

Playing to a packed house on Thursday night, the Pirates initially met a Centauri team that was tough on defense and quick on offense. However, the Pirates were tougher and quicker, holding the Falcons outside the arc (where they were only able to capitalize on a single shot) while driving inside the paint to execute. Outscoring Centauri 14-9 in the first quarter, the rout only got uglier for the Falcons.

Losing their composure bit-by-bit, the Falcons were unable to hold back the Pirate’s onslaught. Unable to hold onto the ball long enough to execute, the Falcons found themselves at more of a disadvantage as the Pirates outscored them 19-13 in the quarter, the Falcons’ last bucket coming at the buzzer when a Hail Mary full-court toss was tipped in by Centauri’s Jared Cornum, in the right place at the exact right time.

At the end of the half, the Pirates were up 33-22.

The Falcons fared little better in the second half, despite a quick start scoring five unanswered points and bring their deficit within six points. It was their last hurrah. Going scoreless for the next five minutes, the Falcons dropped to a 19-point deficit as the Pirates continued to dominate on offense, outscoring Centauri 15-7 in the third and taking a 48-29 lead.

“I thought it was good for us to play a tough game, play under some pressure,” Coach Jim Shaffer said, regarding Centauri’s scoring burst early in the third quarter.

“I thought Centauri played really well, they tried to control the tempo,” he said.

Centauri’s only shot came as Shaffer began filling the floor with JV players early in the fourth. Still, the Falcons found themselves outscored in the fourth straight quarter, 22-19, handing the Pirates a big 70-48 victory.

Taylor Shaffer led the team with 15 points scored and seven assists. Kain Lucero and Austin Jones tied for second in scoring, with each logging 12 points. Tyson Ross led the team with eight rebounds and seven steals.

The tournament championship game was even less of a challenge for the Pirates as the Bayfield Wolverines fell 90-47 to Pagosa.

Unable to mount an effective defense against the Pirates, the Wolverines were even less capable of working around a tight Pirate defense and found themselves spanked 24-7 in the first quarter. Seemingly unable to answer Pirate points or penetrate into the paint during the second quarter, the Wolverines were again outscored 32-11 and left the half down 56-18.

“We only missed three shots in the first half,” Shaffer said. “That’s amazing. And to have scored 56 points in the first half, that’s unheard of for a high school team.”

Patient and deliberate the entire way, the Pirates continued to dominate well into the second half, again outscoring their league rivals 20-11 in the third period and widening the lead to a 76-29 game.

Bayfield finally got a leg up in the fourth as Shaffer gave his JV players some floor time. Although the Wolverines managed to outscore the Pirates 22-19 in the final period, it wasn’t nearly enough and Pagosa Springs took the IML trophy with the huge 90-47 win.

Tomorrow night, the Pirates host the first round of the state 3A championships, facing the 29th-ranked Coal Ridge Titans at 8 p.m. at the PSHS gym. While the 7-15 Titans might appear to be scant competition for the Pirates, Shaffer says, “They’re a dangerous, dangerous team. They made it to the Final Eight last year and they only lost a couple of kids.”

Facing a formidable three-point offense, Shaffer said his team needs to figure out how to stop the Titans inside and outside the perimeter.

“We’ve got to play a great defense,” he said, “and not let them get going.”

“They’re a little bit scary,” he added.

At 4 p.m. tomorrow at the PSHS gym, the 13th-ranked Denver Lutheran Lights will meet the 20th-ranked Rye Thunderbolts. The winner of that round will challenge the winner of the Coal Ridge-Pagosa Springs game for the championship at 3 p.m. Saturday in the PSHS gym.

Per CHSAA guidelines, tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students (K-12) and seniors (60 and older). Only CHSAA and CHSCA (Coaches Association) passes will be accepted.

jim@pagosasun.com