Riding hot streak, Bulldogs wish Christmas came without a break

Riding hot streak, Bulldogs wish Christmas came without a break

Palisade’s Conner Whaley rises to the basket during the Bulldogs’ victory this season over Rifle. Palisade is 6-2 after a six-game winning streak before the Christmas break. The Bulldogs don’t play again until Jan. 6 against Eagle Valley.

Palisade will get the chance to rest starting guard Kane Gunther, who has a twisted ankle, during the Christmas break. Caleb Hall also has a twisted ankle.

Back to 0-0 they go.

So said Steve Phillips, the Palisade Bulldogs’ boys basketball coach, when thinking about an unwelcomed Christmas break. The Bulldogs, 6-2, were squashing opponents with full-court pressure, a mindset that winning is inevitable and an offense that took on an orchestra-like feel with fluid motion and unpredictable, long and short pauses.

They have a six-game winning streak.

But it’s break time.

Palisade’s momentum might have to be resurrected for their next game, a Jan. 6 league matchup at home against Eagle Valley. Grand Junction could have squeezed in a couple of games before the break, but a canopy of snow on El Paso County led to a postponement of the Tigers’ games against Lewis-Palmer in Monument on Wednesday and Liberty in Colorado Springs on Thursday.

Wish Christmas came without a break, coach Phillips?

“We really do,” Phillips said. “We wish we were playing. Still, it is what it is.”

And what it is isn’t much. Not for Palisade and other teams that have torched the pre-league schedule only to run into a break that can potentially lead to extra pounds, sickness and shaky fundamentals.

Fortunately, Phillips said Palisade can begin workouts again Wednesday. Maybe the music won’t skip after all.

“I think our team chemistry will be fine,” Phillips said. “I think when we start back next week we’ll have a lot of competitive things to keep it game-like. We’ll go through clock and score situations to where they have to compete against each other.”

Palisade’s last loss was a 70-53 setback to Smoky Hill in the Warrior Classic. Smoky coach Keenan Clement played for Palisade until his graduation in 1996. Then from 2003-07, he coached the Bulldogs. It was Clement’s first time playing against his former high school.

Maybe, in retrospect, Clement helped his old team once again since the Bulldogs haven’t lost since.

Clement was a bit of a prophet for Palisade at the time, saying: “At this point in the season, everything goes out the window. You’re dealing with high schools so you can have the greatest game plan in the whole world and it might not matter.”

The plants and shades and blinds all went out the window after those first two losses for Palisade.

And with the upcoming break, there’s a glint of gold in the mud: Palisade will be able to rest starting guards Caleb Hall and Kane Gunther, both of whom are dealing with twisted ankles.


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