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After last year’s championship season, quite a few boys showed up for basketball practice this year, hoping to earn a starting spot on the varsity team along with the right to be called a Pagosa Springs Pirate.
“We had 33 kids come out for basketball this year,” Coach Randy Sorenson explained. “That is the most that we have had for awhile. We have lost a couple of them since practice has started, but most of the kids have stuck it out so far.”
The starters for last year’s state champion team — Kain Lucero, Zachariah Griego, Quinn Smith, Garek Erskine and Dean Hampton — were all seniors, so this year’s lineup will consist of all fresh faces.
“We are a young and inexperienced team this year,” the coach admitted, “but the kids have good attitudes and they are working hard. We expect they will just keep getting better and better as the season goes along. The kids are willing to learn and they want to be successful. We are going to have to be patient early and to keep improving every day.”
The only senior on this year’s roster is Jeremiah Miller. The other four names at the top of the list all belong to juniors — Marcos Quezada, Keaton Smyth, Luke Devooght and Tate Drane.
Rounding out the varsity squad are juniors Ben Bard, Bryce Jacquez, Trey Spears, James Pongsalee and L. J. Smith, along with sophomores Gavin Ross, Briar Erskine, James Berndt and Matt Breman.
“The competition is wide open and it will remain that way all year,” Sorenson promised. “The kids know that things could change day to day and week to week.”
The Pirates held a scrimmage last Saturday, inviting four teams — Durango, Ignacio, Mancos and Sangre de Cristo — to the Pagosa Springs High School Gymnasium to participate.
“We were able to see what we wanted to see as coaches,” Sorenson said, “and to get a good idea of where we are individually and as a team. Our inexperience showed at times, but there were a lot of positive things that we can build on. We need to really stress fundamentals and to become more fundamentally sound.”
Just like last year, the Pirates face a tough schedule this season, taking on the following opponents: Sanford, Buena Vista, Peak to Peak, Salida, Ignacio, Sangre de Cristo, Del Norte, Sargent, Centauri, Bayfield, Alamosa and Monte Vista.
“We open the season this Saturday with a game against Sanford, in Sanford,” the coach said. “They are a really good basketball team and they have a lot of returning players. We feel that Sanford has a good chance to compete for the 2A state championship this year. They are well coached and Sanford is a tough place to play.”
The team’s first home game will be Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m. against Sangre de Cristo, and Intermountain League action begins Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. with a home game against Centauri. Post season action, assuming the boys’ season goes well, will begin Feb. 27.