A victory for the little guys

Quickness helps 'Dogs top taller Trojans

Palisade’s Daniel Ness soars in to score two of his six points Thursday in the Bulldogs’ 53-42 victory over Fountain-Ft. Carson at the Warrior Challenge. The shorter Bulldogs used dribble-penetration to set up easy baskets in the win.

A combination of three senior guards — all listed under 5-foot-10 — dictated the Palisade High School boys basketball team’s offense.

Skyler Miller, Tass Crow, and Daniel Ness used quick passes and darting dribble-drives Thursday night to spread out a tall and lanky Fountain-Fort Carson team as the Bulldogs won their season opener, 53-42 at the Warrior Challenge.

With four starters listed at 6 feet or taller for the Trojans, it seemed as if the length and reach of Fountain-Fort Carson (0-1) would hurt the undersized Bulldogs (1-0).

But when a Palisade guard penetrated, they found 6-2 Zach Marengo, a relatively undersized big man. Marengo used his broad frame to power up post shots, leading Palisade with 16 points, all but two coming on layups and short post shots. 
Coach Brian Tafel said that the dribble-penetration was exciting to see during the first game of the season.

“I feel like we’re going to be the shortest team on the floor in almost every game we play in all year long,” Tafel said. “But we have senior guards that have played with each other for a long time. They’re good basketball players. They’re smart and they know the system well. We were able to get the space we were able to get for Marengo because of those guys attacking.”

Palisade scored 18 points in the third quarter after trailing 26-23 at halftime, and then held the Trojans to only eight points in the fourth quarter.

Tafel said he debated switching to a half-court zone defense late in the game, but said that his team’s athleticism was evident when they played man-to-man. The Bulldogs didn’t press, but forced on-ball pressure and jumped in passing lanes.

“We thought we’d have an opportunity to mix up our defense but eventually decided against it,” Tafel said. “But I thought in the second half that we were in better shape and we wanted to test (the Trojans) this early in the season with them having to travel all the way from Colorado Springs.

“I thought we could amp up the pressure in the second half and create some easy turnovers and it ended up working. That’s something that will help us generate offense against bigger teams moving forward.”

The Bulldogs shot 11 of 20 from the free-throw line, but the Trojans only went to the line nine times, converting three.

The difference in free-throw numbers, as well as defensive pressure, are things that Ness thinks Palisade will need to continue going forward.

“For the most part I think we rebounded fairly well against a team that was taller than us,” Ness said. “I think our effort, on defense and with rebounding, was great tonight.”

Palisade will play at 8:30 tonight against Class 4A No. 10 Lewis-Palmer at Central High School.


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