Pressure defense leads Bulldogs past Wildcats, 53-43, at Warrior Challenge

They swarm like flies, arms everywhere. They step into passing lanes, swat passes away and head to the other end of the court.

“It’s something I preach and is my philosophy,” Palisade High School boys basketball coach Brian Tafel said Saturday after his pressure defense translated to a 53-43 victory over Fruita Monument in the final game of the Warrior Challenge at Central.

“We have to be a great defensive team. It’s something we really emphasize, being aggressive. We don’t have much size, we don’t necessarily have the biggest athletes, but anyone can have the attitude that you’re going to shut down and defend.”

Even if you know it’s coming, the Bulldogs’ defense gets you out of your game plan.

Just ask Fruita Monument coach Billy Dreher, whose young Wildcats got flustered and turned the ball over in bunches.

“We knew that they play extremely hard and where we’re at right now we have to be able to control the tempo a little bit and take our time to execute things,” Dreher said. “We’ve got guys either rushing or out of position. When we’re trying to run one thing, somebody’s forgetting one part of it, which messes up the whole thing.”

That pressing, trapping defense the Bulldogs employ allowed them to build a 12-2 lead in the first quarter and negated the Wildcats’ size advantage.

“We try to do things that on offense we don’t want to see, and really dictate to them and make them uncomfortable,” Tafel said.

Palisade attacked not only on defense, but on offense, driving to the basket for layups, but also kicking out to open shooters.

Palisade hit three straight 3-pointers in the final 1:35 of the first quarter, one by Skyler Miller and two by Zach Shurden, for a 21-8 lead.

The Wildcats’ 6-foot-7 center, Spencer Fair, is nearly a half-foot taller than any of the Bulldogs’ regulars, but Palisade kept him out of the paint for the most part because Fruita got so sped up by the defensive pressure.

Fair scored 12 points before fouling out. Devin Winstanley 11 and Matt Story 10 for the Wildcats.

Jesus Aguirre led the Bulldogs with 14 points and Shurden added 11, but 10 of 11 Palisade players who got in the game scored.

Fountain-Fort Carson 56, Central 40: The Warriors, who broke a 27-game losing streak on Friday night, couldn’t hold onto a one-point lead after three quarters.

Central, which trailed 15-8 after the first quarter, came back to tie it at halftime, then got two key 3-pointers from Ed Becoat in the third quarter and led by one, 37-36, heading into the final quarter.

However, Fountain-Fort Carson’s quickness helped the Trojans recover, outscoring Central 20-3 in the fourth.

Trey Fair, who made the all-tournament team, and Preston Grandbouche each scored 10 points for the Warriors (1-2), who had trouble containing Al Davis, an all-tournament pick, who scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half.

Legacy 82, Delta 51: A 26-point third quarter allowed Legacy to extend its 17-point halftime lead.

Mitch McCall hit five 3-pointers and scored 22 points for Legacy, with Andrew Hebel adding 17 and Jesse Jacobson and Travis Baum 10 each.

Delta’s Chris Black, who made the all-tournament team, led the Panthers with 16 points.


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