At 17-0 for the season and 6-0 in Intermountain League competition, the Pirates clinched their conference title this weekend (on season percentages), holding top honors even if they lose their last two games of the season — a highly unlikely scenario from a team that has easily dominated the conference all season, while holding second place in state 3A rankings from the start.
Two home games (the last scheduled for the season), one out of conference and one an Intermountain League match, didn’t offer Pagosa fans much excitement as the Pirates slaughtered the 2-12 Alamosa Mean Moose 44-20 on Friday night, then went on to sink the 3-12 Salida Spartans 56-16 on Saturday afternoon.
Not that the fans had expected much from last weekend’s contests: the Pirates had flailed the Mean Moose in Alamosa 48-22 back on Jan. 21 and in Salida on Jan. 8, Pagosa held the Spartans scoreless during an entire second half of play for a 65-8 victory. As such, expectations for tight games last weekend were not high and the Pirates did not disappoint.
However, Friday’s game began looking as though it could go either way. Despite scoring nine unanswered points in the beginning six minutes (with Mary Brinton scoring seven from the start with Destiny Soto stealing and scoring on a breakaway layup), the Pirates were shut down after Alamosa adjusted from a zone to man defense. Coming out of a 9-0 first quarter, the Mean Moose capitalized on their adjustment, picking Pagosa pockets, holding the Pirates out of the paint and grabbing offensive rebounds for a second look. Outscoring Pagosa 8-6 in the second, the Mean Moose tightened the gap, leaving a low-scoring half down 15-8.
Alamosa’s adjustment fell flat in the second half, however, with the Pirate defense holding the Mean Moose to just three points from the foul line (and no buckets from the field), while scoring 16 points on a nearly unanswered offense in the third. In fact, it was not until 2:26 left in the fourth that the Mean Moose finally scored a field goal, well after Coach Wes Lewis had cleared his bench and filled the floor with his JV players. With Alamosa outscored 13-9 in the final period, the Pirates walked with an easy 44-20 win.
Mary Brinton led the team in scoring with 17 points and led with 13 rebounds and five blocks; Breezy Bryant led with six assists and finished with 13 points, while Soto led with four steals and finished third in scoring with six points.
Making up a December game cancelled due to snow, the Pirates hosted a small, slow Salida team in disarray — one as defensively impotent as it was offensively lethargic. Down 14-1 at the end of the first, only a single three-pointer gave the Spartans a score from the floor for the half, going into the third with 29-6 deficit.
Even though Lewis began putting in JV players from the first quarter, the Spartans held no weapons against a clearly superior Pagosa team. Despite some heartfelt attempts by Salida’s scrappy and diminutive (5-3) Melissa Rodriguez to press pass Pagosa’s offensive and defensive onslaught, the Pirates outscored the Spartans 12-0 in the third and 15-10 in the fourth, cruising into the last week of regular season play with a 56-16 victory and a perfect 17-0 record.
Brinton finished a big night with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Bryant was second in scoring with 11 points and led the team in assists and steals (six each), with Kyrra Condon scoring five points to finish third in scoring.
Friday’s win cinches up Pagosa’s IML regular season title; while other teams scramble for second place, the Pirates’ perfect record puts them squarely at the top.
Even if Monte Vista defeats Pagosa tomorrow night and the Wolverines in Bayfield next Thursday, and if Pagosa loses to Centauri in La Jara next Tuesday, Monte would only tie the Pirate conference record 6-2 (if the Pirates drop both games this weekend), and their overall season’s win/loss percentage would still give Pagosa the edge for the top spot in conference.
The Pirates finish regular season play with two games on the road against teams scrapping to claim second place, the first in Monte Vista on Friday night and then a battle in La Jara against the Centauri Falcons on Tuesday night (both games start at 5:30 p.m.).