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Lady Pirates take second at state

SUN photo/Mike Pierce Lady Pirate Shannel Wilson leads the charge for a loose ball during the Pirates’ Final Four game against the Sterling Tigers, while Emily Bryant and Payton Shahan follow close behind. Taking the second-place title at last week’s state tournament in Colorado Springs was no easy feat for the Pirates as they faced several of the state’s top 3A teams.

SUN photo/Mike Pierce
Lady Pirate Shannel Wilson leads the charge for a loose ball during the Pirates’ Final Four game against the Sterling Tigers, while Emily Bryant and Payton Shahan follow close behind. Taking the second-place title at last week’s state tournament in Colorado Springs was no easy feat for the Pirates as they faced several of the state’s top 3A teams.

 

The Pagosa Springs High School Lady Pirates suffered their first and only loss of the season last Saturday during the state championship game, finishing the 2013-2014 season as the No. 2 team in the state with a 25-1 record.

“I guess I would say that I’m disappointed for my girls, but not in them. I’m proud as heck of them,” coach Wes Lewis said following the state tournament, calling it a great year and a great group of girls, adding, “We were on a journey all year long and we just came up a little short.”

With 25 wins in the book, the Pirates took on the Holy Family Tigers from Broomfield for the state championship and led for the majority of the game.

The Tigers entered the game with five championships in six years and, unfortunately for the Pirates, added a sixth championship in seven years in their final year as a 3A team.

Holy Family is slated to move up to 4A for the 2014-2015 season.

The Pirates outscored Holy Family in the first two quarters, 10-7 and 13-8, giving the Pirates a 23-15 advantage at the half.

“Honestly, we played a fantastic first half,” Lewis said.

The Tigers, however, took hold in the third quarter, tying the game 31-31 shortly before the end of the period by scoring 16, including 10 free throws, and giving up only 8 points to Pagosa.

That trend continued in the fourth quarter, with Holy Family outscoring Pagosa 21-14 to take the state title with a 52-45 victory.

In the second half, the Pirates tallied 20 fouls, versus eight by the Tigers, giving the Tigers 42 free-throw chances in the game (versus 18 for Pagosa).

“We definitely fouled them too much,” Lewis said, noting the team also settled for too many jumpers in the second half, as opposed to how the team worked the ball in the first half.

Holy Family ended the season with a 26-1 record.

En route to the championship game, the Pirates defeated Manitou Springs in Great 8 competition and Sterling in the Final Four.

Thursday, the Pirates defeated the Manitou Springs Mustangs, who finished the season with an 18-8 record.

Pagosa outscored their opponent in three of four quarters in the game (8-3, 11-4, 14-16 and 15-11), giving them a final advantage of 48-34.

The point differential in the game allowed Lewis to give some of the team’s younger players a taste of state action — against another young team that’s likely to make the postseason more in the coming years.

That win propelled the Pirates into the Final Four, where they took on the Sterling Tigers, who finished the season with a 22-5 mark.

The game was, at the time, the closest of the season for the Pirates.

In the game, the Pirates trailed 9-6 at the end of the first quarter, and took a 17-11 deficit into the half — the first halftime deficit for Pagosa of the season.

But the second half was a different story. The Pirates outscored Sterling 11-6 in the third, to narrow the Tigers’ lead to one, 22-23, and scored 10 in the fourth quarter before Sterling found the net.

As the final quarter progressed, Pagosa increased its lead to double digits, winning by a final score of 41-29 and outscoring the Tigers 19-6 in the final period.

“I was really proud of the girls,” Lewis said of the win after being down by six at halftime.

Lewis also noted the strong defense by the Pirates in the game, holding Sterling to 17 points in the first half — about 10 points less than Sterling’s per-half average.

The coach also noted that Sterling is a young team that he anticipates will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years, with no seniors on the roster this season.

The Lady Pirates, however, will lose three to graduation this spring: Taylor Strohecker, Anissa Lucero and Emily Bryant.

“It’s just a great, great group of girls,” Lewis said of the seniors.

Lewis noted that, in the four years the trio has been on the team, the Lady Pirates have been to state three times.

Lewis reported that the team lost two games during the girls’ freshman year, six during their sophomore year, four games their junior year, and one loss their senior year.

“They’re just three awesome, awesome kids,” Lewis said, congratulating the trio on their strong varsity careers.

In addition to the team’s seniors, Lewis thanked the fans who supported the team throughout the season, as well as those who gave the team a strong showing in Colorado Springs.

“I would just like to thank all of our fan support,” Lewis said.

For more on the Pirates, including post-season honors, see future issues of The SUN.

randi@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on March 20, 2014.