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Lady Pirates host playoff action this weekend

Staff Writer

page-1-IML-champs-2014-023-cropWith two more wins at last weekend’s district tournament, the Pagosa Springs High School Lady Pirates are delving into the 3A state playoffs this weekend as the No. 2-seeded team in the state.

The wins give the PSHS team an unblemished 21-0 record, as well as this season’s title of Intermountain League Champions.

This season’s tournament was held in Monte Vista, though the hometown team lost out to the Bayfield Wolverines in a Feb. 25 pig-tail game.

That left Bayfield the No. 4 team in the IML, meaning they faced Pagosa Friday.

The Pirates held the Wolverines to a handful of points or less in three of four quarters in the game, and outscored the Wolverines in all four quarters — 13-5, 12-3, 15-10 and 14-2.

“I thought we had a little bit of a slow start, but our defense was good,” said coach Wes Lewis.

Due to some traveling violations and errant passes, Lewis said the team’s 20 turnovers was higher than it should have been, with 12-15 turnovers expected in a game.

The team shot well from the free-throw line in the game despite limited opportunity, however, going five for six from the charity stripe for an 83-percent success rate.

While no further stats were available by presstime Wednesday, Lewis did highlight the team’s sharing of the ball, stating that several on the team recorded several assists each, including seven by senior Emily Bryant.

“I was just really proud about how the girls shared the basketball,” Lewis said. Of Bryant, he added that, “She passed up good shots for herself to give her teammates great shots.”

With a 54-20 win under their belts Friday, the Pirates went on to face Alamosa for the IML championship Saturday, with Alamosa previously defeating Centauri 41-28.

The Pirates played well in three of four quarters of the game, outscoring Alamosa 7-4, 15-4 and 12-9 in the first three quarters.

However, the fourth quarter challenged Pagosa.

In that quarter, which began with a 17-point lead for the Pirates, Lewis said the team’s defense became lackadaisical, and the team also lost some easy shot attempts and missed some free-throws.

The Mean Moose outscored the Pirates 13-6 in the quarter, giving the Pirates a 40-30 win at the end of the night — their narrowest victory of the season.

The game was also a first for the Pirates — their first encounter with a junk defense on the season.

Lewis said the Mean Moose employed a triangle-and-two defense against the Lady Pirates, but that the team had worked on how to counter a junk defense that morning just in case.

“I thought they did a pretty good job with everything,” Lewis said.

The team went nine for 18 from the free-throw line.

While other stats from the game were not yet available, Lewis noted the solid performances of several players in the game, including Taylor Lee-Hammer, Madison Lewis and Payton Shahan.

The playoff picture

The 2014 3A girls basketball state tournament bracket was released Sunday, with the Lady Pirates garnering the No. 2 seed in the state.

With that seeding, the Pirates will host a portion of the first two rounds of playoffs this weekend, March 7 (Round 1) and 8 (Sweet 16).

Each of the top eight teams in the state will host a portion of the first two rounds.

On Friday, March 7, Pagosa will face No. 31 Gunnison, with the game starting at 6 p.m. Also playing that evening at 7:30 p.m., will be No. 15 Trinidad and No. 18 Salida.

The winners of those two games will face off Saturday at 1 p.m. to determine who will move on to play in the Great 8 (which will be followed by the Final Four and championship) beginning March 13 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The championship game will be played March 15.

“We’re going to have to play well to advance to the final eight,” Lewis noted.

Also earning playoff positions from the Intermountain League are Alamosa (13) and Centauri (16).

Per CHSAA (Colorado High School Athletics Association) guidelines, admission for this weekend’s games will be $6 for adults and $5 for K-12 students and seniors (age 60 and over).

Only CHSAA and CHSCA (Colorado High School Coaches Association) passes will be accepted.

Gunnison (31)

The Gunnison Cowboys hold an 8-14 record on the season and finished sixth among nine teams in the Western Slope League with a 7-9 conference record.

The Pirates and Cowboys had only one common opponent this season — No. 5 Peak to Peak.

Both teams faced the Peak to Peak Pumas at the Buena Vista Tournament in December. At that tournament, Gunnison lost to Peak to Peak 39-37 on Dec. 13. The Pirates defeated the Pumas 50-16 on Dec. 14.

“They’re a lot better than a thirty-one seed, there’s no doubt about that,” Lewis said of Gunnison, pointing out Gunnison had lost several close games. “It’s a tough draw for us.”

The team also has two key players the Pirates must contain for success, Lewis said — their post and shooting guard, who have each been scoring around 20 points per game throughout the season.

Trinidad (15)

The Trinidad Miners have a 15-7 record on the season and finished second among eight teams in the Tri-Peaks East League with an 11-3 conference record.

The Miners and Pirates, too, had only one common opponent — the 2A Del Norte Tigers.

On Dec. 21, Trinidad lost to Del Norte 47-39. The Pirates played the Tigers on Jan. 3 and again on Jan. 11, defeating them 54-27 and 69-28, respectively.

Lewis indicated the Pirates seem to be making a tradition of facing Trinidad in post-season play, with results mixed thus far.

Three years ago, the Pirates lost to the Miners in a game that decided who advanced to the state tournament in Fort Collins. Last year, the Pirates defeated the Miners in the consolation bracket in Fort Collins.

Salida (18)

The Salida Spartans have a 16-6 record on the season and finished second among seven teams in the Tri-Peaks West League with a 7-3 conference record.

On Dec. 14, The Pirates defeated the Spartans 64-27.

In addition to previous head-to-head competition, Salida and Pagosa had a trio of common opponents throughout the season — the Centauri Falcons, Alamosa Mean Moose and Buena Vista Demons.

Salida split their season series with Centauri, losing 52-48 on Dec. 19, but winning by a score of 46-43 on Feb. 1. The Pirates defeated the Falcons 46-24 on Jan. 18 and 62-24 on Feb. 8.

The Spartans played the Mean Moose once on the season, defeating them 40-31. Pagosa recorded three wins over Alamosa on the season — 46-30 on Feb. 10, 41-20 on Feb. 15, and 40-30 at last weekend’s tournament.

Against Buena Vista, Salida recorded two wins — 36-33 on Jan. 14 and 52-48 on Feb. 28 — and a loss by a score of 45-40 on Feb. 7. The Pirates faced the Demons once, winning by a score of 65-19 on Dec. 13.

Despite the early season wins being in convincing fashion, Lewis said Salida has improved over the course of the season.

randi@pagosasun.com

 
This story was posted on March 6, 2014.