Turnovers plague Palisade in first-round loss to Wheat Ridge

WHEAT RIDGE — The number 49 was noteworthy Tuesday night at Wheat Ridge High School where the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament started and ended for Palisade.

The Bulldogs (5-19 record) had 49 turnovers in their 65-35 loss to the fifth-seeded Wheat Ridge Farmers in the first-round game in the Lou Piel Region. Full-court pressure from Wheat Ridge (18-6) was just too much for the No. 12-seeded Bulldogs.

“(Wheat Ridge) had a lot of ball pressure and we didn’t handle it very well,” Palisade coach Toni Gunther said. “We had too many turnovers. You can’t expect to have 49 turnovers and win.”

Wheat Ridge didn’t shoot the ball well in the win that put the Farmers into the second round where they face No. 4-seeded Thompson Valley (16-7) at 7 p.m. on Friday night. The Farmers shot 25 for 83 (30 percent) from the field.

The Bulldogs shot 35 percent, going 12 of 34 from the field.

“They killed us. Just killed us,” Palisade senior Sarah Hays said. “Those 49 turnovers are 49 less shots for us. It’s been a big problem all year for us.”

Palisade gave the Farmers fits early. Hays poured in five of her team-high 13 points in the first three minutes of the game. The Bulldogs grabbed an early 7-3 lead, but when Hays picked up her second foul midway through the first quarter and took a seat on the bench, the turnovers started to catch up with Palisade.

Wheat Ridge went on a 12-2 run to end the first quarter, taking a 13-9 lead. Palisade had 19 turnovers in the first quarter alone. When the Bulldogs got shots off they were nearly perfect, going 4 for 5 from the field in the first eight minutes.

Palisade’s 5-foot-10 senior Holly Odneal had nine points at halftime, but she picked up her fourth foul with 5 minutes, 18 seconds left in the third quarter.

Elise Heutzenroeder picked up the slack on the inside with Odneal on the bench. The 5-foot-10 freshman scored all seven of her points in the second half.

The constant defensive pressure by Wheat Ridge simply wore down the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter. Palisade managed only three points in the final quarter.

Despite the loss, Hays was glad to get the opportunity to get into the playoffs after a 0-10 start to the season.

“It’s good to see what it takes,” Hays said. “You come into the playoffs and it’s a different game.”

Palisade loses only four seniors to graduation, Hays, Odneal, Rebecca Hall and Jenny Brown.

“We got some experience going on the road and playing somebody new,” Gunther said. “We were very happy to be here.”


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