Dunklin’s 3 lifts Sailors past ‘Dogs
To Zach Dunklin, he was just trying to help his team win.
But to Palisade (15-5, 7-2 WSL), Dunklin’s clutch 3-pointer ended an undefeated home season and possibly sole ownership of the Western Slope League title when Steamboat Springs toppled the Palisade boys basketball team 43-40 on Friday night.
After limiting Steamboat (7-13, 4-6 WSL) to three points in the first quarter, and leading by 10 at half, foul trouble caught up to Palisade. Scoring leader Kane Gunther had three fouls at half, and fouled out with six minutes left in the game. Palisade gave up a 12-0 run after Gunther’s departure, and Steamboat tied it with four minutes left. Steamboat held a two-point lead with a minute left, then Dunklin struck.
Coming off the bench with 40 seconds left, the sophomore swung around a screen and made his second 3 of the night to put the game out of reach.
“It was amazing, I’ve never had a shot like it,” Dunklin said. “I was just trying to do my part, that’s all I was thinking.”
Foul trouble, missed free throws and turnovers were all the result of poor coaching, said Palisade coach Steve Phillips.
“We deserved to get beat tonight,” Phillips said. “We got outplayed, out hustled, and outcoached. That’s my fault coaching because we didn’t get them ready to play, the mental preparation wasn’t there.”
The Bulldogs struggled without Gunther and shot 4 of 16 from the field, and 2 of 6 from the free-throw line in his absence. Phillips said finding someone who can step up if Gunther is out is a struggle. Kyle Monger led with 10 points.
“We didn’t get some guys to step up when we needed to,” Phillips said. “It’s hard to play without (Gunther) for a quarter when he fouled out. We had guys that had opportunities and the ball didn’t fall.”
Palisade is now in a three-way tie with Eagle Valley and Delta atop the WSL. Delta and Palisade face off in the final game of the season and Eagle Valley can grab at least piece of the league title by winning out.
Palisade hosts Moffat County today, a team it beat 73-58 in January.
“We lost some of our goals tonight, but we’ll see what our team character is like tomorrow,” Phillips said. “We’ll see if we’ll step up tomorrow and come to play against Moffat County.”
Poor rebounding and shooting overshadowed a gritty effort by the Palisade girls team, who lost to Steamboat (12-8, 6-4 WSL) 34-24.
The Bulldogs (7-12, 3-5 WSL) gave up 13 offensive rebounds, went 0 for 7 from 3-point range and committed 28 turnovers. Flannery Davis led Palisade with nine points.
“We get after it and I’m proud of our effort all the time,” coach Toni Gunther said. “It’s just continuing to learn the game and learning the little things we need to do to be successful. We’re inconsistent right now.”
Palisade will have a rematch with Moffat County, a team they lost to 58-12 earlier this season. After losing by 46 earlier in the season, Gunther says the key is staying positive.
“We can’t get down,” Gunther said. “We just have to do what we know how to do.”