Meeting their first Intermountain League challenges over the weekend, the Pirates immediately moved to the top of IML rankings with a 41-25 win over the Centauri Falcons in Pagosa Springs and 51-32 victory in Bayfield on Saturday against the Wolverines.
In a game where defense figured more prominently than offense, the Pirates had a clear edge, holding the Falcons scoreless in the first period (and not allowing a Centauri field goal until two minutes in the second), keeping them in single digits for three of four quarters.
Capitalizing on numerous mistakes by the Falcons, the Pirates got out to a 10-0 lead by the end of the first and was up 15-1 when Centauri finally scored from the floor with six minutes left in the half. While tough on defense — the Falcons prevented the Pirates from hitting a bucket for almost six minutes in the second — Centauri faced an even tougher Pagosa defense that allowed only seven points in the quarter, going into the half with a 22-7 lead.
“They (Centauri) only came up with one perimeter shot that was uncontested so I was really pleased with our defense,” said coach Wes Lewis.
Trading baskets throughout the third, the Falcons took advantage of Pirate penalties, but gained no ground. Looking like they would gain the edge in scoring for the third, the Falcons lost that advantage when Mary Brinton scored a quick six points in the final minute of the period off three baskets, making it a 10-10 quarter and sending the Pirates into the fourth with a 32-17 lead.
With the game pretty much decided at that point, both coaches flooded the floor with B-team players for a low-scoring final period, with Pagosa once again outscoring Centauri 9-8 in the period and taking the game 41-25 in the Pirates’ first league win of the season.
Brinton led the Pirates with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, with Breezy Bryant finishing with six points and four assists and Magan Kraetsch the team’s third best scorer with four points.
No less effective on defense Saturday night, the Pirates went to Bayfield on Saturday to earn their second IML victory for the season. Again, holding their opponents to single digits in three out of four quarters, the Pirates made easy work of their league rivals. Outscoring the Wolverines 12-6 in the first quarter, the Pirates further dominated in the second, outscoring Bayfield 18-8, leaving the half with a 30-14 lead.
Despite two key players, Brinton and Bryant, stepping into foul trouble early in the game (Brinton sat out nearly half the game), the Pirates continued to dominate, outscoring the Wolverines 16-6 in the third, going into the fourth with a 46-20 lead.
Again, with the game decided at that point, Lewis gave some floor time to his B-team, giving them some more league experience while allowing the Wolverines an opportunity to close the gap. However, Bayfield’s 12-5 scoring advantage in the fourth was not nearly enough to erase the quarters of clear offensive and defensive dominance by the Pirates, leading Pagosa to a 51-32 victory and putting the Pirates squarely at the top of the IML standings.
Brinton again led scoring with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, followed by Brooklynn DuCharme with 12 points and Bryant with 10 points and three assists.
Lewis said, “I don’t think we played very well against Bayfield,” enumerating several problems that he said the team would be addressing in practice this week. “One, we gave up to many offensive rebounds. Two, we shot poorly from the free-throw line and three, we had too many turnovers.
“We’ve got to be better on defense without fouling.”
However, Lewis did want to mention a strong defensive performance from Kraetsch and Sienna Stretton during the game (the coverage of Kraetsch and DuCharme held Bayfield standout Candace Shaw to just seven points).
The Pirates continue IML action this weekend, traveling to Alamosa tomorrow night to meet the struggling Mean Moose. Alamosa has already stumbled in the IML, losing 42-24 to Centauri on Dec. 11 and then losing 51-34 to the Monte Vista Pirates last Friday, their 2-9 season record (and 0-2 in conference) not much reason to give Pagosa pause.
Returning to Pagosa Springs on Saturday night, the Pirates host their namesakes from Monte Vista in a match against a 9-1 team that hopes to challenge Pagosa for IML primacy. At 2-0 in IML play, Monte Vista has traded games with Centauri, losing 60-34 to the Falcons on Dec. 4 (in non-conference play) then taking a 45-29 revenge against Centauri last Saturday. Tip-off time for Saturday’s match is 5:30 p.m.
“They’ve played some good basketball this season and it will be a challenge for us,” Lewis said, pointing to Saturday’s game.
Moving out of league play, the Pirates travel to Sanford on Tuesday night to face the 8-2 2A Indians. Although Sanford will be a step down in division play for the Pirates, Pagosa will be facing a team that has often played well against 3A teams, defeating the Mean Moose 55-29 on Dec. 17 in Alamosa.
“They’re ranked in 2A,” Lewis said. “That will be a good game for us.”
At 10-0 for the season, the Pirates continue to be ranked second in state 3A girls basketball behind Broomfield’s Holy Family — state champions for the past three years. With a perfect overall record and 2-0 in conference, the Pirates have a slight edge over Monte Vista in the IML rankings. Saturday’s game will certainly set the record straight.