Taking responsibility: Kane Gunther has Bulldogs hoping for deep playoff run
Kane Gunther demands and expects a lot of himself.
The Palisade High School junior wasn’t pleased with the Bulldogs’ first-round playoff exit from the Class 4A boys basketball playoffs last season, so he spent the offseason doing everything he could to get better.
“I did a lot of offseason work,” Gunther said. “I wasn’t pleased with our end result. I thought we could’ve gone a lot further. I think we’ll be a lot better off. I think we have a hard-working group this year. I think we’ll do pretty well.”
Gunther played with a Salt Lake City club team in a Las Vegas tournament in the summer, lifted weights and worked out on a regular basis in preparation for this season.
“I went to the gym every day, gained weight, got strong and increased my vertical,” he said. “It helped me realize the talent that’s out there and it helped me improve my individual game.”
Gunther returns this season intent on leading Palisade past the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The Bulldogs will rely on Gunther to pick up the scoring slack with the loss of Jeremy Hayden and Nate Yanez. Gunther averaged 11.7 points a game last season.
Hayden graduated and Yanez moved to Grand Junction. John Hyde and Matt Zarlingo also graduated.
“Kane is a good player,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “He’s really taken to heart to work on it. He’s worked on the leadership part of it and it shows. The guys voted him as one of the captains. That speaks well for him. He’s a great kid.”
Gunther, Caleb Hall and Cody Bond are the Bulldogs’ captains this season.
“I’ve taken more responsibility this year,” Gunther said. “Myself, Caleb, Cody and Gabe Hellman are all contributing as leaders, scoring defensively and rebounding.”
Phillips, though, said the Bulldogs need to rely on defense and ball control to compete in the Western Slope League, where Kevin Flohr returns for defending league champion Glenwood Springs. Steamboat Springs has four of its starters back, including two first-team all-WSL players, and Delta has two all-conference players back in Eli Baier and Tim Ashurst.
“We are not very big,” Phillips said. “We’re going to emphasize defense and taking care of the ball if we want to have success.”