Palisade girls get in playoffs despite record

The Palisade girls basketball team had high hopes but was realistic about its chances of getting into the 4A playoffs.

After finishing the regular season at 5-18, which included losing their final three games, things weren’t looking bright for the Bulldogs on Sunday when the 4A playoff bracket was released.

“I thought it was over,” Palisade’s leading scorer Holly Odneal said. “But we found out (Sunday) and it was a shock, a surprise for sure.”

Palisade earned the No. 12 seed in the Lou Piel Region and plays at 7 p.m. today against Wheat Ridge (17-6) in Golden.

“It is exciting,” Palisade coach Toni Gunther said. “It feels good. I know we didn’t have the wins we wanted, but the goal was to get to the playoffs and show our improvement.”

Now that the Bulldogs are in the postseason, the challenge ahead of them isn’t an easy one.

Palisade plays a Farmers team which finished 9-4 in the Jeffco League. The bracket also includes No. 2 seed Conifer and No. 3 seed Centaurus. Palisade and Wheat Ridge don’t have any common opponents so Gunther said the team looks to take a fresh approach into the playoffs.

“The plan right now is to refocus on what our immediate goal is, which is to beat Wheat Ridge,” Gunther said. “Everyone is at zeros again and we are looking to play a good four-quarter game.”

Bulldogs senior point guard Sarah Hays said the Bulldogs hope to put together a good defensive game against the Farmers and let their defense transition into their offense.

“It is going to take tough defense,” Hays said. “Our defense will help lead us into our offense.”

The Farmers have three players scoring in double figures led by Kendra Austin’s 13.2 points per game. Chloe Gearhart adds 13.1 points per game and Caitlin Wilkie scores 11 points per game.

Hays said if the Bulldogs are to compete in tonight’s game it will take a strong effort from the entire team.

“We have to work hard,” Hays said. “Whether we win or lose, we want to leave it all on the floor.”

Hays’ 10 points per game coupled with the 5-foot-10 Odneal’s 13.2 should help the Bulldogs match up against a Farmers team that has allowed only 43 points per game.

No matter how the Bulldogs fare tonight, they realize even being in the playoffs is a gift. The coach and players hope to make the most of the opportunity.

Odneal figured the waning moments of Palisade’s WSL closer against Rifle were the end but now is happy to have at least one more chance to suit up for the Bulldogs.

“(Against Rifle) I thought this is your final play in basketball, and I better take it in, because this is it,” Odneal said. “I am just thankful that we get another chance to play.”


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