Kane’s big game: Junior’s complete effort lifts Palisade to win over Delta
Junior's complete effort lifts Palisade to win over Delta
UP NEXT: Palisade at Glenwood Springs, 2 p.m. Saturday
By PATRICK BAHR
Kane Gunther has been unstoppable lately.
The Palisade High School basketball player finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and two blocked shots Tuesday night in a 73-61 victory against Delta.
“I really wanted to get a win tonight,” Gunther said. “I looked for open shots, tried to look for my teammates, and get to the boards for some easy buckets.”
Gunther had seven assists after the first three quarters, but didn’t have any more assists that would have completed a triple-double.
Gunther, a junior, entered the game averaging 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and had scored 21 points in the Bulldogs’ first two games after the holiday break.
“He’s had a great three games and has played really well after the break,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said.
After a disappointing 53-45 loss to Eagle Valley to open the Western Slope League, the Bulldogs (5-7, 1-1 WSL) refocused for Tuesday’s game.
Gunther helped push Palisade to a 19-12 first-quarter lead with nine points, including an early 3-pointer to get the Bulldogs’ offense rolling.
“We gave one away at Eagle Valley,” Gunther said. “I really wanted us to play well.”
Gunther extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 28-18 in the second quarter with a steal and layup. Delta (5-7, 1-1 WSL) cut the lead to 37-30, but a Jered Kusal jump shot with three seconds remaining gave the Bulldogs a 39-30 halftime lead.
Palisade pulled away in the third quarter when Delta center Eli Baier got into foul trouble. Baier picked up his fourth foul with 3:45 remaining, and Palisade pushed its lead to 57-44 with the 6-foot-4 Baier out of the game.
“The kids played hard and I’m proud of our defensive effort,” Phillips said. “It’s feast or famine right now, but we did what we needed to do.”
Delta worked its way back into the game, trailing 68-61 with 1:15 left, but four consecutive free throws from Caleb Hall sealed the win.
Hall had a solid game with 19 points, and Kusal saw a lot of close looks in the second half to finish with 10 points.
“Caleb and Jered both played well,” Gunther said. “When we play like this there is no doubt we can win a lot of games.”
Tuesday night’s win also was an offensive breakout for the Bulldogs. It was the first time Palisade has scored more than 60 points this season.
“I didn’t think we could score 73 in an open gym,” Phillips said. “But they played hard tonight and got a win against a good, well-coached ball team.”
Delta had four players in double figures, led by Baier and Jake Ames, who each had 14 points.
Palisade has another big league game Saturday at Glenwood Springs. The Bulldogs have struggled on the road this season with only one win away from Palisade.
“We have to go on the road and beat some quality teams,” Phillips said. “(Glenwood Springs) is a really important one for us.”