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The Pagosa Springs Pirates found themselves in a much tougher battle than the previous week when the boys’ basketball team crossed Wolf Creek Pass to offer the Del Norte Tigers a chance to get even. However, the end result was that the Pirates will head into league action with one more victory under their belt.
“We struggled defensively in the first half,” coach Randy Sorenson admitted in an email. “We gave up 30 points in the first half and 23 of those came in the second quarter.”
The game started out as a defensive battle, and several minutes elapsed before the Pirates were able to put the first points on the board. By the end of the quarter the Pirates had barely squeaked ahead, 11-7.
However, the Tigers rallied and mounted a comeback in the second quarter, finishing the first half ahead by five, 30-25.
“We did not do a very good job of moving our feet and keeping the ball in front of us,” Sorenson said. “We constantly allowed them to beat us off of the dribble and they either got all of the way to the basket or they were able to penetrate and kick to open shooters. We need to fix this immediately or we are in big trouble.”
After halftime, the defensive fight continued, with the Pirates only giving up six points in each of the remaining quarters while gaining 10 in the third and 13 in the fourth, for a final score of 48-42.
“In the second half,” the coach explained, “we played zone defense and only gave up 12 points.”
Ben Bard led the defense with 13 rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot.
Briar Erskine had nine rebounds, one steal and one block. Luke Devooght managed five rebounds and one block, while James Berndt received credit for three rebounds.
Keaton Smyth only pulled down one rebound, but he did manage to steal the ball four times.
Bryce Jacquez, Trey Spears and James Pongsalee each got credit for one rebound and Gavin Ross stole the ball once.
“Offensively,” the coach confessed, “we turned the ball over more than we did against them the week before, and that hurt us.”
The Pirates had a collective total of 18 turnovers this time, whereas during the Jan. 3 game they only turned the ball over 10 times, their best performance of the season so far for that category.
“We missed some easy shots that we need to start converting,” the coach’s description of the Pirate offense continued, “but you have to give the kids credit for hanging in there and finding a way to win in the end.”
Bard was also the leader on offense, scoring 20 points including four out of eight from the free-throw line.
Erskine and Smyth each chalked up eight points. The majority of Smyth’s contribution occurred on the penalty stripe, where he went six-for-seven on free throws.
Spears and Devooght both went two-for-two from the stripe and had four points total, while Pongsalee and Jacquez each contributed one basket.
No one connected from outside the three-point circle.
“We play Sargent Thursday night,” Sorenson looked ahead. “They will be a tough test for us. They are good defensively and they are patient on offense.”
Basketball action will continue this weekend when the Pirates begin league play with a game against Centauri Saturday night.
“They are well coached,” Sorenson explained. “They are very athletic, and they play hard. We better be ready to match their intensity.”
Despite last week’s win, the Pirates moved down in the rankings to 43 in the state 3A division.
Monte Vista, ranked fifth in the state, is at the top of the Intermountain League with a 7-2 win-loss record, followed by No. 13-ranked Centauri with a 7-3 record.
Even though Pagosa and Bayfield both have a 4-4 record, Bayfield is ranked higher because they have scored more points and allowed less to be scored against them.
Alamosa rounds out the Intermountain League with a 4-5 record.
After tonight’s non-league, away game against Sargent, the Pirates will have a series of home games — against Centauri on Jan. 18, Ignacio on Jan. 21, Bayfield on Jan. 24 and Alamosa on Jan. 31.
In February, the boys travel to Monte Vista on the first, host Sanford on the fourth, and then hit the road for rematches against Centauri on the eighth, Bayfield on the 14th and Alamosa on the 15th.
The final game of the regular season will be at home against Monte Vista on Feb. 20. Loyal fans won’t want to miss any opportunity to come out and support their team.