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Lady Pirates continue win streak, face Centauri Friday

Lodged at number two in state 3A rankings on both the Denver Post and Colorado Preps polls (the only two reliable preps polls), the Pirates played three games this past week that showed why the polls are mostly subjective and not an accurate reflection of how good a team might be. Playing up to a 4A team last Thursday, the Pirates showed they could handle a team in a larger division by beating the Durango Demons 65-45. On Saturday, the Pirates destroyed the Salida Spartans 65-8 in a show of how decisively Pagosa rules the division. And on Tuesday night, the 2A Ignacio Bobcats brought no fight to Pagosa as the Pirates took an easy 58-29 victory.

Facing the 5-2 4A Demons last Thursday in Durango, the Pirates showed absolutely no indication of being intimidated. In fact, outscoring the Demons all four quarters, Pagosa remained in the driver’s seat the entire game.

Holding a slight 10-9 edge in the first quarter, the Pirates exploded in the second period, their characteristically selfish defense holding the Demons to just seven points while racking up 22 points of their own. Leaving the half with a 32-16 advantage, the Pirates no doubt gave the Demons reason to shake their heads during the halftime reflection.

“They were the best team we’ve played so far this season,” said coach Wes Lewis. “I was really pleased with our defense.”

Pretty much trading baskets through the second half, the Demons were unable to overcome the 50 percent deficit they had fallen to in the first half. Outscoring Durango 15-13 in the third period to expand their lead to 47-29, the Pirates held on offense and defense with a single bucket 18-16 advantage in the fourth, returning to Pagosa with a 65-45 victory.

Mary Brinton dominated with 33 points scored (a career high) along with 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Breezy Bryant, playing with her characteristic finesse and unselfishness, led with seven assists and was second in scoring with 18 points — an astounding five shots good from the three-point zone. Magan Kraetsch finished third in scoring with seven points, while Sienna Stretton played stellar defense and logged five assists.

In one of the most lopsided games in 3A Division competition this season, the Pirates embarrassed the 2-6 Spartans in Salida on Saturday night, preventing any score in the entire second half and walloping the team 65-8 in a display of obvious offensive and defensive dominance.

Discretion being the better part of valor, Lewis refused to go on the record regarding the game. Briefly, the Pirates outscored the Spartans 16-4, 20-4, 18-0 and 11-0 in the blowout

Brinton led scoring again with 28 points and taking 13 rebounds, followed by Bryant with 17 points (nine of those from the three-point line) and leading with 6 assists. Stretton again showed tough defensive play and logged four assists. It should be added that, with B-team in for the majority of the second half, the bench showed its depth with uncompromising defense and a quick, formidable offense.

Again, on Tuesday night the Pirates dominated the Ignacio Bobcats so clearly and so decisively, a narrative seems pointless. After leaving the first quarter with a 16-8 lead (Bryant hitting a three point hat-trick and scoring 11 points total in the period), Pagosa went into the half with a commanding 31-16 lead. Dominating at the boards, denying the Bobcats few if any rebounds, the Pirates were helped by the Bobcat’s inability to follow through inside the paint along with a predilection for handing over possession. The Bobcats were outscored again 18-8 in the third, going into the fourth down 49-24.

To the credit of Bobcats’ coach Brice Searles, faced with a deficit larger than the total points Ignacio had scored up to that point, the B-team was sent onto the floor to finish a game that was obviously lost. Lewis responded in kind and the fourth was more like a JV game than varsity high school basketball. Pagosa outscored Ignacio 9-5 in the final period for a 58-29 victory, giving the Pirates a perfect 8-0 record for the season.

Despite the win, Lewis stated dissatisfaction with his team’s performance holding the Bobcats out of the lane. “I thought we allowed too many shots, too many dribble-drives,” he said. “I didn’t think our defense was as solid as it should have been.”

Bryant finished the game with 25 points scored, hitting five three-pointers, and four assists (tying Destiny Soto who also scored four points). Brinton had 22 points and 13 rebounds (also leading with four steals) with Kraetsch third in scoring with five points.

The Pirates are home tomorrow night, starting at 5:30 p.m., for what could be their toughest game of the regular season, hosting the 9-1 Centauri Falcons for Pagosa’s first Intermountain League match up of the season.

“We have the utmost respect for Centauri,” Lewis said.

“Centauri’s going to press, they’re going to defend us well,” Lewis added. “We expect a dog fight. We know they’re coming loaded for bear and we’re going to have to match their intensity and level of play.”

In fact, with a long tradition of physicality and aestheticism under the near-legendary coaching of Dave Forrester (one of the winningest coaches in Colorado high school basketball history), the Falcons will not be coming to Pagosa Springs to lay down and will be looking to unseat the state’s second ranked 3A team.

On Saturday, the Pirates travel to Bayfield to challenge the Wolverines for a second IML match. The Wolverines dropped two on Saturday at the annual Cortez Tournament against two 4A teams: Delta and the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers. Allowing a come from behind 48-45 by the Panthers, the Wolverines dropped to 1-6 for the season (the Pirates beat the Panthers 52-20 Dec. 11, during the Wolf Creek Classic), but gained another win Tuesday night in Mancos with a 45-38 against the 2A Bluejays to bring a 2-6 record to Pagosa on Saturday night for Bayfield’s first IML match of the season.

Taking issue with last week’s season preview in The SUN, Lewis also said that Saturday’s game in Bayfield against the Wolverines would not be an easy win, saying that the Wolverines will be looking to turn their season around with a win against a top-ranked Pagosa team.

“We have another dogfight in store on Saturday night,” Lewis said, adding that Bayfield has not shown their true mettle this season.

“They’re better than their record,” he said.

jim@pagosasun.com