Palisade slows Montrose's Youngren to advance to semis
Montrose’s Angelo Youngren was one of the top scorers in the Southwestern League, but to the Palisade High School boys basketball team, he was a mystery. The Western Slope League champion Bulldogs, despite being only an hour away from Montrose, had not faced the Indians this season.
A mix of man defense and a 1-3-1 zone severely hampered Youngren on Thursday and allowed Palisade to advance in the Class 4A Southwestern/Western Slope District tournament with a 60-53 win at Brownson Arena.
Youngren made five of 20 shots from the field, connected on two of eight 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. The Bulldogs forced Youngren, who was third in scoring among SWL guards, to shoot pull-up transition jumpers and contested 3-pointers.
“We knew (Youngren) was tough and very athletic,” Palisade coach Brian Tafel said. “We wanted to make sure he earned everything. We knew we had a good opportunity to win if we could make him pull up and shoot jump shots over hands, not get open 3s, and limit his ability to drive. We wanted to wear him out. We rotated kids on him, and maybe it worked, maybe it didn’t, but I felt like it altered some of his shots.”
Bulldogs guard Daniel Ness notched two steals and spent a large part of the game defending Youngren.
“We pride ourselves on playing tough defense,” Ness said. “We’ve spent the whole year practicing defense and trying to limit scorers. Tonight, I guess it worked.”
Palisade didn’t shoot the ball well against the Indians’ zone defense, making only three of 14 shots from beyond the arc, but the Bulldogs utilized the high post to break Montrose’s zone. Forwards Zach Marengo and Jesus Aguirre led Palisade in scoring with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Ross Barney, Montrose’s 6-foot-6 center, led the Indians with 17 points and six rebounds.
“We’ve been undersized all year,” Tafel said. “It was ... just another game where we have to work to defend a big (man) type situation. I feel like the intensity we practice at, and the speed we play, did a lot to limit the damage. I feel like that allows us to stay in games where we may have less talent.”
Last year, when the 4A state tournament field was chosen by a selection committee, the Bulldogs would have automatically received a bid. This year, the Bulldogs had to play a game to secure a spot, and the win Thursday guaranteed them a spot at the state tournament.
“This tournament has been a new opportunity for us to get better,” Tafel said. “It allows us to get used to a tournament atmosphere. It’s also a learning moment for these guys to prepare for state. In a tournament, all you need to do is advance.”
Palisade faces third-seeded Eagle Valley in a 4:30 p.m. semifinal today at Brownson Arena.