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Durango girls come up short in season opener

Pagosa Springs takes control of tight game 40-37 after technical foul
Sydney Flores of Durango High School puts up a shot while playing Pagosa Springs High School on Tuesday evening at DHS. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

No more than five points ever separated the Durango High School girls basketball team and Pagosa Springs Tuesday night in both teams’ season openers.

The Pirates, however, were able to put the game on ice with some late free throws to win the contest, 40-37.

“I thought there were a lot of little things that we could have done better,” said DHS head coach Tim Fitzpatrick. “Pagosa is a great first game test to see what we need to work on.”

Sophomore Carter Nieman got the scoring going for DHS with a free throw and a field goal.

“I thought Carter played a good basketball game,” the coach said.

Carter Neiman of Durango High School plays defense against Pagosa Springs High School on Tuesday evening at DHS. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Later in the first, junior Annie Ginna assisted senior Sydney Flores for a bucket in the paint to put Durango up 5-2. Pagosa, however, sank a 3-pointer and added another basket to lead 9-8 after one quarter.

DHS stayed close to the Pirates in the second with Nieman, junior Mason Rowland and Flores all making baskets that cut Pagosa’s lead to one point. After Pagosa’s Karsyn Shahan hit a 3-pointer, junior Riley Campbell assisted Flores late in the second to cut Pagosa’s lead to 18-16 at halftime.

Rowland gave the Demons a spark to start the third and helped Durango take the lead. Rowland first stole a pass and assisted Campbell on a fast-break layup to tie the game at 18-18. The Pirates responded with a pair of baskets, but Rowland stole the ball again and scored on a fast break. Pagosa hit another shot, and Rowland swished a 3-pointer to cut the Pirates’ lead to 25-24.

Flores snagged an offensive rebound, was fouled and hit both free throws to give Durango a 26-25 lead.

Sophomore Adde Nieman later grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback for DHS, but Pagosa led 32-27 after three.

The game remained close the rest of the way.

Rowland made a pair of baskets to cut the lead to 32-31 at the start of the fourth.

Trailing by three with 20 seconds left, Adde Nieman drew a charge. Rowland then hit a basket with six seconds left to cut Pagosa’s lead to 38-37.

Durango fouled right away to send Pagosa to the line. The Pirates made one of its attempts, giving them a two-point lead, but the Demons called a timeout without any remaining, resulting in a technical foul. Pagosa added one more free throw, inbounded the ball and burned the final seconds off the clock to win the game.

“For the most part our effort was good,” Fitzpatrick said. “As long as our effort is good, good things will happen.”

Rowland scored 17 points to lead DHS. Flores added 11, and Carter Nieman scored 5.

Durango, however, only made 8-of-17 free throws. “Less than 50% is not good enough,” Fitzpatrick said. “In a tight game like that, that’s a difference.”

DHS will next compete Centauri’s tournament Thursday through Saturday.