‘Dogs get defensive
Palisade rides defense to 4A SWL/WSL district crown
The Palisade High School girls basketball team, for the third game in a row, didn’t have the consistency on offense it was looking for.
However, also for the third straight day, the Bulldogs’ defense did more than enough to secure a win Saturday.
Led by Ashlyn Brown’s 13 points and a defense that forced numerous turnovers, Palisade won its 19th consecutive game, outlasting Durango 32-26 to win the Class 4A SWL/WSL district tournament at Brownson Arena.
“We lift weights, we go hard and defense is our motto,” Brown said. “It’s what we work on in practice. Offense comes sometimes, but defense is what wins championships.”
It was a defense that allowed the Bulldogs (21-2) to maintain a lead after plenty of early lead changes.
Midway through the first quarter, Durango (16-7) took a 4-2 lead. Palisade battled back to take a 6-4 lead at the end of the first. The Bulldogs fell behind early in the second quarter, but Brown brought them back with a 3-pointer from the corner. Palisade led by as many as six points during the second quarter, but Durango cut it to a three-point deficit by halftime. The Bulldogs never trailed in the second half, but Durango kept it close.
The Demons closed within two points with 30 seconds remaining after a slick, no-look assist from Katie Wiegert, but Palisade iced the game at the free-throw line.
Brown was the only player in double figures for Palisade and one of five players to score, but she said the Bulldogs’ defense will keep them competitive in the Class 4A playoffs.
Particularly important, Brown said, is the team’s physicality.
“We’re an aggressive team,” Brown said. “We’ve been learning how to compete with teams who are also aggressive. It was a little harder against Durango, at first, but I’m glad we got to face a team like that when we did.”
Although defense has become Palisade’s mantra, offense hasn’t been completely discounted.
Palisade coach Danielle Bagwell said the Bulldogs struggled on offense during the tournament, and although they won, offense will be a focus before the playoffs.
Bagwell added that even if the offense isn’t completely working, defense will keep the Bulldogs in games.
“We’ve shown, especially this weekend, that we can shut down big scorers,” Bagwell said.
Montrose 36, Rifle 26: Much like the championship game, defense was the story in the third-place game.
The Indians went to the free-throw line a season-low six times, but Holly Brooks scored 10 points — eight in the first quarter — to secure the win.
For the Bears (13-10), only three players scored. Jessie Pressler scored 12 points and Elly Walters added 11 points.