Bulldogs lean on Maestas


Palisade Bulldogs

Head coach: Danielle Bagwell, second season

Last season: 10-14 overall, 7-7 WSL

Key players: Senior Cruz Maestas (first-team All-wSL); senior Jenna Brown; junior Casey Brown (honorable mention All-WSL); sophomore Aspen Guray.

Hopes are high in Palisade as the Bulldogs’ girls basketball team looks to rebound with a strong season in 2013-14.

After losing only player from last year’s team that went 10-14 overall and 7-7 in Western Slope League action, the Bulldogs will have plenty of varsity experience back this season.

Head coach Danielle Bagwell, who is in her second season with the Bulldogs, said they hope to keep the pace high and use their depth to pressure teams.

“That’s one difference from last year is that we will be a lot deeper this year,” she said.

A big part of that depth will come from a strong group of freshmen and sophomores.

“We’ve had two really strong freshman classes in a row,” Bagwell added.

Bagwell said three freshmen will likely see action on varsity this season, adding that the bench could go 11 deep, which will allow them to play with more defensive intensity than they did last season.

Even with a number of players returning who saw varsity action, Palisade has only two seniors, but they will play huge roles on and off the court.

Cruz Maestas, a first-team All-WSL guard, will team with junior Casey Brown in the backcourt, giving the Bulldogs a lot of quickness.

Brown, who was an all-league honorable mention selection as a sophomore, will again be the point guard. Maestas said the Bulldogs’ quickness in the backcourt should lead to good scoring opportunities in both the fast-break and half-court offense.

Maestas and fellow senior Jenna Brown know they need to be mentors to the younger players.

“(We) will have big leadership roles, making sure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Maestas said.

The Bulldogs won’t bring a lot of size to the court, but Bagwell said Jenna Brown and sophomore Aspen Guray will have large roles in the post positions.

“We don’t have a lot of size, so we’re just going to have to box out well. Some of our guards play big, too,” Bagwell said. “As long as we can score a little on the inside, I think we’ll be OK with our size on defense.”

The coach said Jenna Brown and Guray will give the Bulldogs the inside scoring chances they will need, with Maestas and other guards providing capable outside shooting and fast-break chances.

Bagwell said the key to this season will be defense.

With a deeper bench, the Bulldogs will look to up the defensive intensity with an aggressive man-to-man defense, possibly trying to press the entire game.

Bagwell said they should be able to compete with anyone in the WSL, adding they will have to rely on a strong work ethic and “battle every day” in practice and games.


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