Tough defense fuels Hotchkiss’ win

COLLBRAN — The Plateau Valley boys basketball team tried several times to execute a backdoor cut for a layup.

The first time, the play worked.

The second time, Hotchkiss forward Taylor Schreiner audibly slapped the ball off the wall behind the basket.

The Cowboys ran the play a third time, and although Schreiner’s second block wasn’t as emphatic as his first, he sent a message to Plateau Valley on its home court: You will get nothing around the rim.

“Deny, with backside help,” Schreiner said of the Bulldogs’ defensive philosophy.

Hotchkiss limited the Cowboys to eight points in the paint and notched eight team blocks on the way to a 59-31 victory Saturday night. Schreiner led the Bulldogs with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

“As a coach, I’ve never been a fan of blocking shots,” Hotchkiss coach Kyle Crowder said. “I’ve got a couple of guys that can do it. Taylor, he has great anticipation and great balance. You know, he can just get up and get shots.

“We just want to make sure that they have good help-side defense and that everyone knows what their role is defensively.”

Hotchkiss started with an 8-0 run to end the first quarter up 15-7. With starters on the court during the first three quarters, the Bulldogs held Plateau Valley to single digits each quarter. During the fourth quarter, Plateau Valley notched 11 points. Crowder said the Bulldogs’ winning record in league play is a result of defensive discipline.

“We have a good record despite leaving some games out there that we should have had,” Crowder said. “Our inconsistent shooting has been the biggest issue. But the guys are starting to gain confidence, and our depth has been tremendous. Sometimes the game seems closer at the beginning, but we pull games out because of our defense and depth. It helps us out when we’ve had back-to-back games like this Friday and Saturday.”

River Panish and Andrew Tiedeman aided the Bulldogs from beyond the arc. They each chipped in a 3-pointer and had 10 and seven points, respectively.

Fernando Enriquez led Plateau Valley with 14 points. He was one of the few offensive weapons the Cowboys had. The post player even chipped in two 3-pointers late in the game.

Crowder said his team needs to focus on its offense if it is going to succeed going forward.

“We want to come out and shoot,” he said. “We want to execute and get the X’s and O’s going. We aren’t worried about the win. These last three nights we’ve been working on limiting turnovers. We have a tendency to play down to teams, and while the last three nights the teams haven’t been very good, we’ve come out and taken care of what we had to.”

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