MIssed opportunity

MIssed opportunity

Pirates fall late to Bulldogs, 64-60

Playing for the third time in as many days, the host Cotopaxi boys basketball team squandered a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter to Primero, losing the key District 6 game 64-60 on Saturday afternoon.

The Pirates, 9-5 overall and 4-2 in the league, took a 50-43 lead on a three-pointer by Chance Gulliford with 6:48 left in the fourth quarter. The Pirates then went cold from the field, while Primero heated up, going on a 13-0 run of its own.

The Bulldogs’ spurt was fueled by string of missed three-point attempts by the Pirates, who finished the game making seven of a season-high 30 three-pointers.

“It comes down to we get that seven-point lead because we are playing aggressive, we are working for layups, we are running our offense and we decide instead of doing that we are going to shoot up one-pass three-pointers that allow them to get back into the game,” Pirates coach Matt Schwindt said. “I don’t think it was that they [the Bulldogs] started shooting too well, it was that we gave them more opportunities than they needed, because we wanted to take the quick shot instead of what was working.

“I was happy with our intensity. The boys never gave up. I thought we played really hard. The biggest number is probably the free throws (11-25) and shooting 30 threes, because we don’t shoot 30 threes, ever. That’s too many. That’s not our style of play, so we need to go back to the drawing board, come back next week and take it to Sierra Grande.”

The Pirates did receive balanced scoring, with Gulliford finishing with 20 points and 20 rebounds. Peter Belt scored 15 and Jonah Bertolino had 12. Ty Coleman and Collin Whipple came off the bench and combined for 11 points.

“Ty did an excellent job, giving us some life coming in, getting those offensive boards,” Schwindt said. “And Chance had 20 and 20, which means he was working. It just comes down to doing the little things at the end of the game; we have to be better shooting free throws. We talk about it every day at practice, that we need to treat it like a game. Hopefully this one stings enough that we will do that.

“I’m proud how the boys played coming off our third game in a row, coming off two away games, against a good team after you just played a really good Crested Butte team, and having the intensity they did. We hung with it, we just need to finish.”

Cotopaxi started the contest slow, falling behind 7-0. It trailed 16-8 after the first quarter before closing to within 30-25 at intermission. The Pirates’ biggest deficit came early in the third quarter when they fell behind 36-25.

The Pirates responded with a layup and free throw by Bertolino and a layup by Belt and two three throws by Coleman to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 36-32. Cotopaxi took its first lead, 42-41, with 1:47 left in the third period on a layup and a free throw by Gulliford.

Schwindt said the Pirates will need to win out to secure a favorable district tournament seed.

PAXI GIRLS DOWN MOFFAT

The Cotopaxi girls didn’t have a game against Primero, but defeated Moffat 44-26 on Thursday. Cotopaxi is 11-3 and 5-1 in the league.

The Pirates beat Moffat 66-35 earlier in the season in a tournament game, but struggled this time around and led just 20-19 at intermission before pulling away.

“We overlooked them,” Cotopaxi coach Troy Thornton said. “They’ve improved dramatically. We came out, our defense wasn’t where it usually is. We had turnovers. We just didn’t play well, especially in the first half. In second half we did what we had to do to win.”

The Pirates will play Sierra Grande on the road on Feb. 7 in a key District 6 showdown.

"As a coach we’ve never beaten Sierra Grande,” Thornton said. “We are now playing for second in the league.”