Learning experience: Palisade sees hope despite rough start at Warrior Challenge

Kane Gunther soars in to score two of his six points Saturday during Palisade’s 93-36 loss to Anthony Davis and Fountain-Fort Carson at the Warrior Challenge at Central High School.



Nobody could blame the Palisade High School boys basketball team for being a little frustrated after losing all three games of the Warrior Challenge at Central High School.

On Saturday, the Bulldogs faced their toughest challenge of the tournament, losing 93-36 to Fountain-Fort Carson, ranked No. 6 in Class 5A, one day after losing to the top-ranked team in Class 4A, Longmont.

“There’s a lot of things worse than getting beat three times, but sometimes we don’t realize that,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “We learned a lot of good lessons and got a lot of things we can work on.”

After Palisade scored the first points on a pass from Collin Girardi to Kane Gunther, the Trojans used 3-point shooting from Kevin Parks and Chris Davis to take a 28-8 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Fountain-Fort Carson pressed the entire game and scored inside and outside, hitting a dozen 3-pointers.

In the third quarter, Palisade limited the Trojans to eight points as part of a good 10-minute stretch.

“We’ve just got to extend those 10-minute periods into longer periods of time,” Phillips said.

Although the players were discouraged, they’re optimistic about the season.

“I think our team’s going to bring something away from it,” Palisade senior Cody Bond said. “(We’re) learning that we need to handle the ball a little bit better, learned that we need to practice a little harder and that we can’t just settle for a little bit of hard work. We’ve got to go for a lot of hard work.”

Ball handling and defense were the Bulldogs’ primary concerns in the loss, but the bright side was the emergence of several players.

The Bulldogs are still focused on winning a league championship and hope the experience against high-caliber teams will pay off.

“We’re definitely learning from the losses,” Bond said. “It’s just unfortunate that we got whooped so bad.”

Caleb Hall led Palisade with 16 points. Chris David led Fort Carson with 22 and Dominique Wright added 15.

Carbon County 84, Central 79, OT: Carbon County’s Clint Finkbiner drew fouls at the right time in the final game of the three-day tournament.

With 23 seconds left in regulation, Central led by four, but on two consecutive plays, Finkbiner drew 3-point shooting fouls. Central’s Taylor Sanchez was given a technical, giving Finkbiner eight free throws in the waning seconds. He connected on six to give his team a one-point lead with 7.5 seconds left.

Central’s Zach Padilla tied the game with a free throw with 1.5 second left but the Warriors couldn’t connect early in overtime and couldn’t catch up.

The Warriors led 16 at halftime but struggled to score in the second half. The Dinos broke Central’s press and narrowed the lead to 53-51 after the third quarter.

Central finished 20 of 38 at the free-throw line. Zach Padilla led the Warriors with 23 points, including four 3-pointers. Scott Brennan and Trey Fair each scored 13 points.

Finkbiner led the Dinos with 35 points. He finished 10 of 13 at the line and 10 of his 13 attempts came in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Tanner Gagnon had 14 points for the Dinos.


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