Strong defense lifts ‘Dogs to first win

Palisade’s Billie Schott beats the Battle Mountain defense down the floor Thursday night to score two of her five points in the Bulldogs’ 62-26 win.

Danielle Bagwell notched her first high school varsity win Thursday, but she basically shrugged off the feat.

“It feels good,” Palisade’s first-year girls basketball coach said. “They played well.”

She was more interested in talking about the defense of the Bulldogs, who defeated Battle Mountain 62-26 as Cruz Maestas scored 17 points to lead Palisade (1-3, 1-0 4A Western Slope League).

Palisade took a 19-9 lead after the first quarter, which was highlighted by Casey Brown hitting a jump shot, then stealing the ball and going in for a layup in a span of 10 seconds to give the Bulldogs a 15-7 lead.

Brown and Maestas gave Palisade the offensive tempo it needed, Bagwell said.

Especially Maestas, who early in the fourth quarter stole the ball and drove to the basket, where she made a layup and was fouled. She converted the three-point play, putting the Bulldogs ahead 52-26.

But the Bulldogs had the comfy lead thanks to the full-court press Bagwell broke out against Battle Mountain.

“In practice we don’t look so good in (the press),” Bagwell said. “With our press break, we have to have a hybrid press break to even run it in practice, so we said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’ That, I think, was their weakness: ball-handling.”

It worked. But unfortunately for Palisade, Battle Mountain began hitting shots off the glass in the third quarter. Logan Nash hit a 3-pointer off the glass. Bagwell just smiled.

Later, Nash banked in a jumper from in front of the basket and about 15 feet out. Bagwell, on the sideline, was no longer smiling. She looked astonished.

“I told our kids to tighten up (the defense),” Bagwell said. “When they throw the ball in the air, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

But in the end, Palisade pulled away in the physical game as freshman Ashlyn Brown had 13 points, including a 3-pointer early in the third quarter that put Palisade up, 39-17, and had Battle Mountain coach Vinny Cisneros calling a timeout.

Also for the Bulldogs, Jenna Brown had eight points.

Casey Brown and Moriah Rayment finished with six points apiece.

Rayment, in the second half, may have led the team in most times being fouled.

“It was pretty physical,” Rayment said. “There was a lot of pushing, a lot of shoving, a lot of slapping, a lot of hacking. Nothing we couldn’t handle.”


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