COLLINSVILLE — When the Pirates returned almost their entire roster after getting a rare taste of playoff success, it was a goal for the eight seniors to put together a final season ranking among the best in school history.

COLLINSVILLE — When the Pirates returned almost their entire roster after getting a rare taste of playoff success, it was a goal for the eight seniors to put together a final season ranking among the best in school history.

While that goal has already been reached, another is now just two wins away — a trip to Austin.

“They’re all seniors and they know this is their last chance,” Collinsville head coach Danny Bates said. “That’s played a role in it.”A balanced attack has help provide success on the hardwood not seen in a decade as the Pirates (18-7) face Olney (18-10) in a Class 1A Division I Region II semifinal at 1 p.m. today at Abilene Christian University.

The winner will face either Poolville or Muenster at noon on Saturday for a spot at the state tournament.

Should the Pirates end up taking on Muenster, it would be an all-District 13-A (I) match-up with the Hornets having taken the first two meetings — the only 1A team to beat Collinsville this season.

But there is a no looking past the Cubs as the Pirates are in the region semifinals for the first time since 2003.

“The next game is the most important game,” senior forward Andrew Harris said. “We have to stay with that mentality.”

It is with that focus Collinsville has surpassed its area-round appearance from last spring. The Pirates lost only one player to graduation following a five-point postseason defeat to region semifinalist Trenton.

“We can’t really be satisfied with what we did last year,” Harris said. “We had to stay hungry and keep striving to be better.”

So the expectations were high going into this season.

“We’ve accomplished what we thought we could at this point,” senior guard Jace Claytor said.

Knowing what he had returning, Bates made sure to beef up his team’s non-district schedule. Collinsville had a good showing at the Sherman Tournament despite competing against 4A and 5A programs.

“It’s because of their experience,” said Bates, a Collinsville alum. “They’ve played in some big games the last couple years.”

Either John Lewis or Connor Daley has normally led the Pirates in scoring at the forefront of a deep backcourt rotation. Claytor, Harris, Michael Broyles and Tanner Petska fill in the corresponding roles while Cole Bennett is the lone member of the team that sees regular minutes in a true post position.

“We’ve heard from the beginning of the season that we have too many guards and not enough big men,” Claytor said. “All our players can do so much. We feed off each other and that’s what’s helped us throughout the season.”

While Collinsville doesn’t totally rely on its outside shooting, it does play to its advantages.

“This is my first year where we don’t have that one true post,” Bates said. “This year we focused on penetrating and driving the lane and dishing out. The more we can get up and down the floor in transition, the better we can be.”

With eight of the 12 players being seniors, the chemistry is apparent both on and off the court.

“We’ve all grown up together since third grade. We all know how everyone’s going to play together,” Harris said.

Collinsville advanced to the region tournament with a 63-55 victory over Blue Ridge earlier this week. Lewis scored 26 points, hitting five three-pointers in the second quarter, to go with 11 rebounds, five steals and four assists while Daley added 11 points and Petska finished with 10 points. Collinsville led for almost the entire game before Blue Ridge got the deficit down to one with just under two minutes remaining. Daley hit a three-pointer to provide a cushion as the Pirates picked up one of the bigger victories in school history.

Olney, which last made the region tournament in 2002, advanced with a 58-48 victory against Haskell. Tanner Thompson had 14 points, Ethan Guerra totaled 11 points and 11 rebounds, Ethan Pulliam scored 11 points and Tracey Jones added nine points.

The Cubs opened the playoffs with a bye as the District 10-A (I) champions and then defeated Goldthwaite, 65-55, before the victory against Haskell ended back-to-back losses in the region quarterfinals.

Thompson leads the team at 17.7 points per game to go with 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Pulliam is the only other Cub in double digits at 10.2 points while Guerra, a 6-foot-4 forward, is averaging 7.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.

“I know they’re pretty aggressive. Pretty physical,” Bates said. “They are going to get to the basket.”