While not able to repeat for a fourth season as Intermountain League champs, the Pagosa Springs High School girls’ basketball team will, nevertheless, go on to play another game.
With a win over the No. 2-seeded Centauri Falcons, and a one-point loss to the first-ranked Bayfield Wolverines at last weekend’s district tournament in Bayfield, the Pirates move on to top-32 action as the 13 seed.
For Pagosa, the district tournament started with a match against the Falcons, who knocked the Pirates to third place in the league earlier in the season, and who the Pirates split the season matches with.
“My hat’s off to our kids,” Coach Wes Lewis said. “We played really good.”
The game was even at 11 following the first quarter, and it wasn’t until the second that the Pirates were able to take a lead.
Outscoring the Falcons 12-9 in the second quarter, the Pirates took a 23-20 lead into the third quarter.
From there, Pagosa wavered, dropping their lead to only one point at the end of the third quarter, 30-29.
In the fourth quarter, however, the Pirates outscored the Falcons 13-10 to squeak out a 43-39 win and advance to the tournament’s championship game.
“I think our defense was solid, as usual,” Lewis said, adding that defense has been the team’s backbone throughout the season.
Lewis said no other stats were available for the game.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, Monte Vista, the IML’s fifth-seeded team, defeated No. 4 Alamosa to advance to last weekend’s district tournament and face the Wolverines.
Friday, No. 1 Bayfield beat Monte Vista 59-42, moving the Wolverines into Saturday’s championship game.
Centauri went on to defeat Monte Vista in Saturday’s consolation match by a score of 67-27, allowing them to move on in postseason play as the IML’s third qualifier.
The championship game, then, pitted the Pirates against the 17-3 Wolverines, whom the Pirates were unable to defeat throughout the season.
“The defense was top-notch again, I felt,” Lewis said, adding that throughout the tournament he felt the offense was more relaxed and improved.
The Pirates and Wolverines battled throughout the game, swapping leads and making the game’s outcome a question until the final seconds.
Bayfield led Pagosa 8-7 at the end of the first quarter, but a 10-8 second quarter favored Pagosa, allowing the Pirates to take a 17-16 lead into halftime.
Outscoring the Wolverines 9-4 i the third quarter left the Pirates with a 26-20 lead going into the final quarter.
The Pirates were able to increase that lead to eight in the quarter before the Wolverines surged, leading the Pirates by 5 with about 1:30 to go, Lewis said.
Still looking for the win, the Pirates took the lead, 38-37, with only 18 seconds remaining.
Unfortunate for the Lady Pirates, the Wolverines responded with a jump shot with 11 seconds remaining to take the one-point lead that would win the game.
“It was unfortunate that we were weren’t able to win that game,” Lewis said, adding, “I have no regrets ... I thought the kids left everything they had out on the court.”
Lewis added that the team had two unsuccessful looks at the basket in the final seconds, and that the team was a play or two short of being able to host the next round of playoff action.
In addition to the close game, foul trouble led to both Taylor Strohecker and Payton Shahan leaving the game in the fourth quarter.
Against Bayfield, Emily Bryant notched 14 points, while Anissa Lucero and Shahan each recorded eight and senior Brooklyn DuCharme added seven.
No other stats were available for the game.
Now, the top eight seeds will host the first round of the state tournament.
Bayfield, the 6 seed, will host tournament play with Gunnison, Peak to Peak and Grand Valley.
Centauri will head to tournament play hosted by No. 2 Machebeuf, along with Mead and St. Mary’s.
Friday, the 13-seeded Pirates (15-6) head to Trinidad to take on 20-seeded Valley Vikings (15-7) at 5 p.m.
“They’re a young and athletic team,” Lewis said of the Vikings. “Very, very quick.”
Lewis said the Vikings tend to press a lot and “trap really hard” while pressing, meaning if the team can get back on the traps, they should have some “easy opportunities” on layups.
Also on Friday’s bracket is a matchup between the No. 4 Trinidad Miners and 29-seeded Manual Thunderbolts (7-15) at 7 p.m.
Saturday, the winners of Friday’s games face off at 1 p.m. to determine one of the eight state qualifiers that will head to Fort Collins — but it’s one step at a time for Lewis.
“We’re concentrating all of our energy and efforts on Friday night, Lewis said. “We need to worry about that one first.”