‘Dogs get defensive: Palisade riding defense during 4-game win streak
The Palisade High School boys basketball team is winning with defense.
The Bulldogs leaned on their defense again Saturday in the final game of the Sunrise Rotary Club Invitational, a 47-36 victory over Moffat County.
“We feel defense is the key to winning,” Palisade guard Kane Gunther said. “If we can keep the opposing team to low numbers, we know we can win.”
During Palisade’s four-game winning streak, the defense has given up an average of 38 points per game.
“We finally found our rhythm,” Gunther said. “I think we’ve been looking good defensively.”
Palisade’s man-to-man defense suffocated Moffat County in the first half. Palisade (4-5) jumped to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter, and pushed its lead to 18-8 heading into the second.
In the second quarter, Palisade hit an offensive lull and scored only five points. Despite the tough quarter offensively, Palisade’s defense put on a clinic, holding Moffat County to two points.
Moffat County’s only points came with 45 seconds remaining on an inside basket from Jacob Scroggs, who picked up a loose ball that could have been stolen by multiple Palisade defenders for an easy layup.
Palisade led 23-10 at halftime. “I was really happy with our defense,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “We were in the right spots, and it’s been good to us so far.” Palisade’s defense isn’t complicated, but emphasizes pressuring the ball and creating turnovers.
“The guys are getting the concept,” Phillips said. “You have to scramble if you get caught out of position and always contest all shots.
“If you are contesting shots, it makes it a lot more difficult for them to score.”
Palisade had a big third quarter, led by Caleb Hall. The Palisade junior had six points in the final three minutes of the quarter to push the Bulldogs’ lead to 37-19 heading into the fourth quarter.
Hall finished with 13 points. Gunther led the Bulldogs with 17 points, including a stretch in the fourth quarter where he put the game away with back-to-back buckets.
Hall and Gunther have been two of the Bulldogs’ leading scorers the past three seasons, and Phillips said they have progressed within the offense this season.
“They are sharing the ball and have been the unsung heroes,” Phillips said. “Now they are getting the ball to other spots on the floor and their scoring is coming a little easier.”
Although Moffat County is a league opponent, the game was counted as a nonleague game.
The game still had plenty of incentive for Palisade, which finished the tournament 3-0.
“It was a good effort and we wanted to win this tournament,” Phillips said. “They are trusting each other and playing well.”
Palisade returns after the holiday break with a game Jan. 4 against Central.