Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
The Pirates game plan was about as hard to spot as Taylor Strohecker. And the first-half lead they built behind her was almost as tall.
The Ignacio High School girls basketball team spent two quarters struggling to figure out how to keep the ball out of the hands of the 6-2 Strohecker, but she wasted no time figuring out how to keep the ball going into the hoop.
Lob. Catch. Score. Repeat.
“It was all mental,” Strohecker said. “Know what I had to do.
“And I did it.”
Strohecker scored more than half of the Pirates’ points, including 15 of her 22 total in the first half, to push Pagosa to a lead that also would prove too tall for the Bobcats to overcome: The Pirates beat the Bobcats 42-29 on Tuesday night at IHS.
“The big girl was just huge,” Ignacio’s Michelle Simmons said.
Strohecker said the speed of Tuesday’s game in the packed-house IHS gymnasium worked to the Pirates’ advantage.
Ignacio never led as Pagosa built a lead of as much as 12 in the first half before the 25-15 score at the intermission, despite the fact that three Pirates made up all but two points of their scoring.
Behind Strohecker, Payton Shahan scored 10 points, and Emily Bryant scored eight.
Madison Lewis scored the other two.
Scoring for the Bobcats was more widespread, with Sky Cotton leading the team with nine.
After missing the Bobcats’ win against Ridgway on Saturday, Mariah Vigil returned to the lineup to add six points, while Simmons and Pam Cotton, who returned Tuesday from a knee injury, scored four.
But spread around or not, Ignacio points weren’t efficient, and most of them weren’t too pretty.
The offense often looked discombobulated and unable to find a rhythm.
“Our chemistry wasn’t there (Tuesday night),” IHS head coach Justa Whitt said. “Definitely didn’t have our chemistry right.”
Simmons said the return of Vigil and Pam Cotton to the lineup, while welcome, might take some time to get used to as the Bobcats try to integrate them back into the offense.
Besides, she said, the necessary concentration just wasn’t present Tuesday.
“We were running plays, and nobody even knew what we were running,” Simmons said.
After falling behind against Strohecker’s mismatch in the first half, the defensive concentration did pick up, though, Whitt said, and that provided some hope for the Bobcats.
Gabs Garcia, Valerie Armstrong and Vigil made adjustments in the final two quarters to slow Strohecker down beneath the basket.
“They stopped lobbing in there, so that was good,” Whitt said.
But the damage was done, and the Bobcats (5-6) would get no closer than 29-23 in the third quarter.
“It was a big disappointment,” Simmons said after getting beat by the bigger Class 3A school. “I don’t feel like we stepped up like we should’ve.”