No matter what defensive scheme the Durango High School boys basketball team utilized Friday night against Englewood in the first day of the Mitchell tournament in Colorado Springs, the Pirates found a way to break it.
Englewood (5-0) made 13 3-pointers on the night to keep the Pirates ahead for the entire game in a 66-54 win. Whenever Durango went on a run and would get within striking distance, the Pirates’ lightning-quick possessions often ended in points.
Durango (5-4) did all it could to keep up with the Pirates but had its four-game win streak come to a close. The Demons were led by Sam Johnson with 12 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter, Jordan Woolverton had 11 and Anthony Flint had seven. Junior forward Nate Gravagno led the Pirates with 22 points, and led the team with five 3-pointers. Gunner Johnson was the Pirates’ second leading scorer with 15, while Joshua Jones had 14.
“Every time we would make a four- or five-point run, they would answer right back with a 3-pointer,” said DHS head coach Alan Batiste. “It was tough because we played well on defense, but their possessions were super fast. We struggled in transition in the first half and fixed it in the second, but it wasn’t enough.”
The Pirates got off to an early 18-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, and were able to extend the lead to 31-20 by halftime.
In the second half, the Pirates continued to take quick shots, but the Demons caught on to the game plan and made defensive adjustments. DHS was able to get back in the game through quick transition baskets of their own. After Englewood led by as many as 17, the Demons crawled back through Martin Cuntz’s four points, while Woolverton and AJ Carlson each chipped in five to make it a nine-point game.
In the fourth, the Demons could not get any closer, as the Pirates connected on only one 3-pointer but made six field goals and were 4-of-4 from the free-throw line to help secure the victory.
“The problem for us is that their quick transitions led to some really quick shots, and if you make those quick shots, it can be demoralizing on defense,” Batiste said. “We worked hard tonight, but their 3-point shooting was just too good. They’ve attempted almost 100 3-pointers already, and that tells you that they’re going to shoot it. Tonight, they were good, but I think we can respond tomorrow.”
The Demons will play tournament hosts Mitchell (3-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday in Colorado Springs.
“Mitchell has a much more balanced offense than Englewood,” Batiste said. “They are more of a dribble penetration kind of team, and so we will have to be more aware of the paint tomorrow.
“I like where we are at overall, though. We have been minimizing turnovers and our offense has continued to grow. We’ll get after it tomorrow.”