Strong defensive effort, Hayden’s hot shooting, lift Palisade to win
As a senior playing in his final home game, Palisade High School’s Jeremy Hayden had a bit of motivation going into Thursday night’s 66-47 win over Rifle, and it didn’t take him long to get going.
Hayden finished the first quarter with 11 of Palisade’s 19 points, including one 3-pointer. Kane Gunther added 12 first-half points, giving the Bulldogs an early lead that the visiting Bears could never touch.
Much of the early success came from the Palisade defense, which allowed only 17 points in the first half. By halftime, the Bulldogs had doubled their opponent’s score.
“The seniors set the tempo for playing defense and continued through the game,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said.
In the second half, the Palisade shooters started colder, and Rifle, led by Tyler Rust’s 18 points, was able to narrow the gap to 15, but Cody Bond found his groove, scoring all of his 14 points in the second half.
The Bulldogs had four players reach double figures, with Hayden finishing with 17 and Gunther, Bond and Nate Yanez finishing with 13 points each.
“I thought it was a great team victory,” Phillips said. “When your team plays like a team, good things happen. It was easy coaching tonight.”
The Palisade girls weren’t able to finish their season with a win, falling 57-40 to Rifle.
The Bulldogs, who lost 81-31 to the Bears in January, held their own for the entire first half, trailing by five at halftime.
In the second half, though, the Bears’ pressure defense finally took its toll on the Bulldogs, who were outscored 23-6 in the third quarter.
Senior Nicole Routhier finished the game with 14 points for Palisade, including going a perfect 6 for 6 at the free-throw line.
“She’s been so consistent for us and stepped up defensively,” Palisade coach Toni Gunther said. “We know she’s going to be able to guard that top scorer for the other teams.”
Kendra Barnes had nine points and Kailie Wallace and Meghan Peters finished with five each.
Ciara Euler led Rifle with 20 points, Nicole Karr had with 15 and Courtney Cordova 13.