The eternal question: “Does size matter?”
The Pirates answered that question last Saturday night after defeating the much taller Buena Vista Demons team 62-54 for the tournament championship after defeating the Gunnison Cowboys 66-40 on Friday.
Outscoring their opponents three out of four quarters, the Pirates were never in trouble of giving up the game to Gunnison. Coming out strong with a selfish defense and their characteristically quick offense, the Pirates finished the first quarter with a 16-9 advantage. Although Pagosa ceded some ground during the second quarter, outscored 15-14, the Pirates held a 30-24 lead going into halftime.
“We played well — in spurts,” said coach Randy Sorenson, adding, “but we settled down and played a lot better in the second half.”
However, it was the third quarter where the Pirates exhibited their strongest defense and hottest offense, holding the Cowboys to just four points while scoring 19 of their own, roaring into the fourth with a 21-point lead, ahead 49-28 at the end of the third period.
With Sorenson cycling in players from the bench for some early-season floor time, the Pirates still managed to outshoot their opponents and with a 17-12 advantage in the final quarter, the Pirates went on to Saturday’s championship round with a 66-40 victory over Gunnison.
“We played really well as a team and that’s what we’re shooting for,” Sorenson said.
Daniel Puskas led scoring with 18 points followed by Tyson Ross with 16 points.
The Cowboys went on to defeat the Woodland Park Panthers 66-43 during Saturday’s consolation round; the 4A Panthers fell 44-29 to the Demons on Friday night.
With a pronounced height disadvantage against a much taller Buena Vista team for Saturday’s championship round, the Pirates proved that speed, skill and a strong defense are more than enough to rise to the occasion.
Again, outscoring their opponents in three out of four quarters, the Pirates were never seriously in trouble. Although the Demons took an early advantage at the boards, grabbing rebounds on shots the Pirates were unable to make, Pagosa finally calmed down (after Sorenson called an early time out), eventually edging out their hosts 14-13 at the end of the first quarter.
With defense from both teams dominating the second quarter and the Pirates taking back the rebounding advantage, the half ended with Pagosa outscoring Buena Vista 8-4 in the period and going into the second half with a 22-17 lead.
Similar to the night before, it was the third quarter where the Pirates exploded, scoring 27 points while holding the Demons to just four buckets. The speed and toughness the Pirates exhibited in the third period fell apart in the final period as Buena Vista outscored the Pirates 29-13. Still, it was not enough to overcome deficits in the previous three quarters and the Pirates left Buena Vista with the tournament championship and a 62-54 victory.
Puskas again led the Pirates in scoring with 19 points. Hot on three-pointers, Kain Lucero followed with 16 points while his brother, Zach, finished with 15 points.
“We came out strong in the third but we just quit working on defense in the fourth,” Sorenson said.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s matches, Sorenson said, “We’re going to work hard on our defense.”
The Pirates make their home debut tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at the annual Wolf Creek Classic tournament hosting the still untried 2A Dolores Bears. Prior to the Pirates’ game, the Cowboys will face the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers, with the girls playing at 3:30 p.m. and the boys playing at 5 p.m.
On Saturday, consolation rounds start at 2:30 p.m. for the girls, 4 p.m. for the boys, with the boys championship round starting 7 p.m.
Next week, the Pirates travel to Monte Vista to meet the 1-0 2A Sargent Farmers (with a 51-47 victory over Sierra Grande last Saturday), then return home to host the 1-1 Salida Spartans at 7 p.m. on Saturday night, Dec. 18 (Salida took a win and a loss last weekend in Colorado Springs, 45-27 against Colorado Springs School, then losing the next night 47-40 against James Irwin).