Palisade uses 22-3 run in middle quarters to rally past Rifle
It took a while, but the Palisade High School girls basketball team finally heated up.
After falling behind 11-3 early in the second quarter, the Bulldogs slowly caught fire and routed Rifle 44-29 at the Palisade Sunrise Rotary Club Invitational on Thursday in a game that also counted in the Class 4A Western Slope League standings.
“I’d like to have started better, but I think it was just some first-home-game jitters,” Palisade coach Danielle Bagwell said. “They were just a little rattled. Once we started slowing down and running the offense, we were OK.”
Palisade (5-0, 3-0 WSL) didn’t score its first bucket until 4:30 of the second quarter. But with the score tied at 11-11 to open the third, the Bulldogs took over.
Back-to-back baskets by Aspen Guray in the paint and a 3-pointer from Ashlyn Brown put the Bulldogs up 18-11.
A free throw from Rifle’s Chante Church ended a 15-0 run by the Bulldogs. But a baseline jumper from Jenna Brown and a left-handed drive by her freshman sister, Christa, started another run.
Cruz Maestas hit a driving layup right before the buzzer, and the Bulldogs had a 25-14 lead on the strength of a 22-3 run that started about midway through the second quarter.
The Bulldogs’ second-half roll was about defense, said Bagwell, who pointed to Maestas, her senior point guard, as the key.
“Her leadership on defense, she was really solid,” Bagwell said.
The first half was an offensive struggle for both teams and a story of two quarters.
After taking an 8-2 lead after the first quarter, Rifle’s Kailee Cordova swished a 3-pointer early in the second. That was the end of the scoring for the Bears until Church’s with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs couldn’t get anything to drop from the field in the first quarter and didn’t hit a shot until Ashlyn Brown made a nice pass to Christa Brown, who nailed a baseline jumper.
Ashlyn Brown followed that with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead to 11-10.
When Danica DeLaHoz hit a free throw, the score was tied 11-11 at the half. The Bulldogs got six of their 11 points from the free-throw line in the half.
Church was limited to only six points on three free throws and a 3-pointer in the fourth. Whether she shot from the outside or made shifty drives to the bucket, Palisade defenders kept contesting the senior’s shots, and they kept rimming out.
The 33-point second half was all about teamwork and spreading the scoring out for Palisade.
Guray, Abby Thiessen, Christa Brown and Ashlyn Brown each finished with eight points.
Thiessen scored all of her points in the fourth, including making six of nine free throws.
Rifle (0-4, 0-1 WSL) made a little push in the fourth behind two 3-pointers by Brenda Reyes. The senior led the Bears with nine points, all in the fourth.
Rifle head coach Kristy Wallner was pleased with the effort, but the lack of offense was the difference.
“I felt like we had good opportunities, but we just missed a lot of shots,” she said. “We have to just keep improving.”
Palisade plays Durango today, then takes on Grand Junction, which is a replacement for Montezuma-Cortez because the Panthers pulled out of the tournament when they couldn’t field a team.
Bagwell said the matchup with the unbeaten Tigers will be a good test for her young team, which has two seniors.
Cheyenne South 42, Central 37: Central led 20-19 at the half, but Cheyenne South gained the upper hand by outscoring the Warriors 11-6 in the third quarter of their Sunrise Rotary Club Invitational game.
D’Kota Brodie led Central (1-6) with 15 points, and Tyler Hays added eight points.
Cheyenne South took 37 free throws to Central’s 25.