Bulldogs fall flat
Lack of preparation costly for Palisade vs. Steamboat
During its first game after Christmas break Friday night, the Palisade High School boys basketball team trailed wire to wire and dropped a Class 4A Western Slope League contest to Steamboat Springs 55-38.
Rather than point to a specific shortcoming during the game, Bulldogs coach Brian Tafel said it was lack of preparedness that led to the defeat.
“I take full responsibility for the loss tonight,” Tafel said. “We needed to come in and play like it was a big conference game, and we just didn’t. Steamboat, give them all the credit in the world. They came in and played like it was a big-time conference game.
“We came out flat offensively. We weren’t guarding the way we usually guard, and I take full responsibility for not having us ready on both ends of the court.”
Carter Kounovsky led the Sailors with 19 points, including three 3-pointers, and gave Palisade fits every time he touched the ball.
“Kounovsky, he’s a great player, and he just lit us up tonight,” Tafel said. “The kid we couldn’t stop was number 14, plain and simple. We have to be able to defend a guy like him when he gets hot.”
The Bulldogs (6-3, 3-1 WSL) started slowly in the first quarter, as Steamboat Springs (6-2, 1-1 WSL) frequently forced turnovers and Palisade missed open shots. After opening the second quarter with only five points, Palisade got some rhythm when Jacob Bollinger and Daniel Ness hit 3-pointers. Zach Marengo, Tass Crow and Skyler Miller chipped in from the free-throw line to close the gap to 25-17 at halftime.
To open the third quarter, Miller and Bollinger hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut Steamboat’s advantage to 25-23. But the Sailors never relinquished the lead, and they widened the gap behind hot shooting from Kounovsky.
The Sailors hit eight 3-pointers, compared to nine shots inside the arc.
Bollinger and Miller led Palisade with eight points each. Free throws continued to hurt the Bulldogs as they made only five of 15 attempts, and their season percentage dropped to 53 percent.
Steamboat Springs center Garrett Bye, listed at 6-foot-9, blocked four shots and finished with six rebounds. The Bulldogs limited Bye to seven points as they focused on knocking the ball loose when Bye brought the ball to his waist. Bye turned the ball over eight times.
The defensive success may help the Bulldogs when they play Rifle and talented big man Tanner Quick on Jan. 14.
But for now, Tafel said his team will watch the film of the loss to Steamboat to prepare for the Feb. 7 rematch, a game that could have league-title implications.
“I’m just glad that we’re playing them early, in January, where we have a chance to learn,” Tafel said. “I’m not happy with how this game turned out. We weren’t ready, and that’s on me. But we have a chance to watch film and learn from this. We will get better from this, and we’ll be ready for them the next time we play them.”