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With conference play now underway, the Pagosa Springs High School Lady Pirates look to have a challenge on their hands, and continuing their current defensive stride is key.
After falling in their first league match, against Centauri High School in La Jara Saturday, the Pirates sit fourth in the Intermountain League, with Bayfield next on the schedule.
But before Pagosa took on Centauri Saturday night, they played a rescheduled game against the 2A Sargent High School Farmers Thursday night.
Despite a week of final exams preceding the game, the Pirates returned home with a 50-20 win over the Farmers.
“I feel good about it,” coach Wes Lewis said, adding, “I was pretty happy with the team’s effort. I thought we got after it early and played well defensively.”
The Pirates outscored the Farmers in all four quarters (14-6, 9-4, 15-7 and 12-3) en route to the 30-point victory.
Leading the scoring for the Pirates was Taylor Strohecker with 16 points, including one three-pointer. Anissa Lucero and Payton Shahan followed with 10 points each, including two three-pointers from Lucero.
Madison Lewis and Emily Bryant each notched four points in the game, Haleigh Zenz contributed a free throw, Taylor Lee Hammer added two, and Morgan Schaaf added one.
Strohecker also led the team in rebounds with eight, as well as tallying two steals and two assists.
Shahan rebounded five times and stole the ball three times.
Bryant and Schaaf each had three rebounds on the night, with Bryant contributing two assists and Schaaf adding one steal.
Madison Lewis notched two rebounds, three steals and one assist, Zenz had two rebounds, two steals and two assists, and Lucero added one rebound, three steals and five assists.
The Pirates had 18 turnovers in the game.
Next up was the team’s first foray into conference action, in the form of a matchup with the Centauri Falcons, which the Pirates dropped 26-24.
“They know us really well and vice versa,” Lewis said, calling the low score typical for the two teams. “I couldn’t be happier about our defense. To hold them to 26 points was pretty impressive.”
Pagosa held Centauri to only six points in the first half of the game, leading by a score of 14-6.
Centauri then outscored Pagosa in the third quarter 11-6, and 9-4 in the fourth quarter, giving the Falcons a two-point edge as the buzzer sounded.
“It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t get a bucket or two,” Lewis said, noting that he thought there were missed opportunities. “It was one of those games that, you know, someone had to lose.”
Despite the loss, Lewis praised the defensive efforts of the team, namely Bryant and Madison Lewis.
Bryant also led the scoring effort for the Pirates with 11 points, including a three-pointer and a two-for-three night on free throws.
Madison Lewis followed with six points, including one three-pointer and a one-for-two night from the stripe.
Shahan added four points to the board, going two-for-two on free throws, and Strohecker added three, including one free throw.
Overall, the team went six-for-nine from the stripe.
Strohecker led the rebounding effort for the team with six, and two blocks.
Bryant notched five rebounds, four steals and two assists.
Shahan and Lucero each had four rebounds, with Shahan adding three steals and Lucero contributing two steals and two assists.
Madison Lewis and Haleigh Zenz each added two rebounds, with one steal for Zenz, and Schaaf added a steal.
Again, the team had 18 turnovers.
Then, Tuesday night, the team headed to Ignacio for a rematch against the Bobcats, whom they narrowly defeated earlier this season.
This time, however, the Pirates took home a more comfortable 42-29 victory, with Lewis again praising his team’s defense.
“I’m really happy with where our defense is at,” he said. “Ignacio is a really good 2A basketball team.”
The Pirates outscored the Bobcats in all four quarters (10-6, 15-9, 9-8 and 8-6), to better the overall record to 9-2 on the season.
Stohecker led the team with 22 points in the game, including one free throw and a three-for-four night on free throws.
Shahan followed with 10 points and four of five free throws, and Bryant scored eight, including a two-for-two night at the stripe.
Madison Lewis rounded out the scoring with two points.
Overall, the team went 9-for-11 from the free-throw line.
Strohecker led in rebounds, with nine, and had four blocks, one steal and two assists. Bryant had five rebounds, five steals and five assists, and Madison Lewis had five rebounds, one block and one steal.
Schaaf added four rebounds and two assists, Shahan added three rebounds and two assists, Zenz recorded three rebounds, and Lucero added one rebound, two steals and one assist.
The team’s turnover count sits at 14 for the game.
Next up, the Lady Pirates return to conference action with a Friday night game in Bayfield, starting at 5:30 p.m.
The Lady Pirates are currently fourth in the conference, behind Centauri (2-0), Bayfield (1-0), and Alamosa (1-1). Monte Vista rounds out the league with an 0-2 conference record.
“It is going to be a challenge. Bayfield’s playing pretty well this year,” Lewis said. “It should be a big one for us.”