Palisade’s adjustments pay off in victory over Bear Creek

Bear Creek’s Jaron Price found a way to score in the Bears’ first two games of the Warrior Challenge at Central High School.

Friday night Price scored 27 points against Grand Junction, and Saturday against Palisade, Price was off to a similar start, with 16 points in the first quarter.

Knowing the damage Price had done in the first two games, Palisade head coach Steve Phillips matched sophomore Gabe Hellmann against him.

Price scored four points in the second half, and Palisade won its second game of the tournament, 54-48 over the Bears.

“Gabe did a great job fundamentally,” Phillips said. “He really works his tail off on the defensive end.”

Hellman said he was glad to accept the challenge of guarding Price.

“I wanted to work hard and stop him,” Hellmann said. “He scored 27 last night, and today we held him to less than that.”

Although Price was held in check in the second half, Bear Creek found a way to erase a 10-point third-quarter deficit. With a little more than two minutes remaining, a Mark Smith basket tied the game at 48-48.

Palisade then turned to its senior leader, Jeremy Hayden, who had two big baskets in the final two minutes to allow the Bulldogs to pull away.

Hayden finished 10 points and Nate Yanez finished with 18 points.

“We didn’t play as well as we can,” Phillips said. “But it was really important to fight through the adversity and get it done.”

Fruita Monument 58, Douglas County 46: The key for Fruita Monument was finding the right five guys to put on the court at the same time.

The Wildcats struggled in the first half to get any rhythm offensively, scoring only 22 points.

Momentum-changing plays off of the bench by Tanner Crites, Keenan Coit and James Lewis propelled the Wildcats.

“Keenan, Tanner and James all played well off the bench,” Fruita Monument coach Dave Fox said. “But that started on the defensive end.”

After trailing by one heading into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats pulled away, outscoring Douglas County 23-12 in the final quarter.

“We had to rev the defense up,” Fox said. “It was a matter of finding five kids that wanted to play hard.”

TJ Pollock led the way for the Wildcats with 15 points, including a buzzer beater at the end of the first half, and had nine points in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Drew Bridges added 10 and Lewis finished with eight.


Fruita Monument High School couldn’t overcome a slow start for the second straight night.

After a 10-point loss to Fairview on Friday night, the Wildcats had their hands full with second-ranked Monarch, losing 71-39.

Monarch applied pressure early and took a 19-8 first-quarter lead. The Coyotes pushed their lead to 16 by halftime, 36-20.

“They were very tough,” Fruita Monument coach Dan Schmalz said. “But we fought with them, and worked hard.”

Taylor Johnson led the Wildcats finishing, with 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Sarah Hensley added 11 points.

“Taylor and Sarah both did a good job,” Schmalz said. “We are still looking for that third scoring threat.”

Monarch had five players in double figures, led by Ashton Davis and Alexus Johnson, both with 12 points. Schmalz said although the final score wasn’t what the Wildcats were looking for, it was good to see a team of Monarch’s caliber.

“We won’t see a team like that good again until the playoffs,” Schmalz said. “But there were times where we did compete.”


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