Indians control boards in win over Bulldogs
The Montrose High School boys basketball team came into Palisade on Tuesday night ready to play.
The Bulldogs, conversely, appeared as if they needed a jump-start in the sub-freezing temperatures.
“I take responsibility for that,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “I didn’t have them ready.”
Although Palisade mounted a second-half comeback, it was the Indians riding a strong first half on the way to a 74-56 nonleague victory.
“Coming back from Christmas break, we were a little rusty,” head coach Dwight Rawlings said of his Indians (8-3).
His team’s last game before the break was against Palisade in the Black Canyon Invitational, a 79-58 victory.
There didn’t appear to be too much rust to scrape off in the first quarter, when Montrose sprinted to a 16-7 lead. Most of that came on the strength of offensive put-backs. Although the Indians weren’t hitting their outside shots, they did a good job on the boards on their end.
“We’ve been working on that since we came back from break,” Indians senior post Mac Alexander said. “Coach says offensive rebounds are precious.”
Alexander did his part with 21 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, four on the offensive end.
By the break, Montrose had stretched its lead to 39-22.
Palisade, suiting up only nine players on Tuesday for various reasons, saw that number shrink to eight in the second half after starting post player Jake Edmiston sustained a calf bruise in the first half. Phillips, knowing his team opens its Class 4A Western Slope League season with two games this weekend, opted to sit Edmiston in the second half.
Still, Palisade put together one of its best quarters of the season after intermission, scoring 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting.
Nate Yanez, coming off the bench, scored all 10 of his points in the second half, his final basket cutting the Bulldogs’ deficit to 62-52 with 2:57 remaining in the game.
Montrose broke the Bulldogs’ full-court press and did a good job of isolating players down low for easy baskets.
“We’re a great shooting team,” Alexander said, “so once we get that, we can work it inside.”
Jeremy Hayden led all scorers with 22 points for Palisade (0-8).
“We gave up too many offensive rebounds,” Phillips said. “We’re a bit smaller, but that’s no excuse.”
Half of Montrose’s 34 rebounds came on the offensive end.
More distressing to Phillips, however, was Palisade’s free-throw shooting, hitting 17 of 26.
“We had a chance,” Phillips said. “That’s a personal focus thing. We work on that in practice.”
Montrose has another nonleague game next Tuesday before starting Southwestern League play.
Palisade begins its WSL campaign Friday at home against Rifle.