Working in transition: Warriors use fast-break baskets in second quarter to top Bulldogs
The Central High School boys basketball team could feel the momentum swinging and ran with it.
Fueled by transition baskets, the Warriors went on a 17-4 run in the second quarter Tuesday night to defeat Palisade 53-49 at Central High School
Palisade (4-6) played a flawless first quarter, building an 18-7 lead behind five points and three assists from Kane Gunther.
In the second quarter, Central (1-9) opened with a three-point play from Zach Padilla and an offensive put-back from Scott Brennan to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to six.
The Warriors kept the pressure on and closed the half with back-to-back steals that led to fast break layups from Taylor Sanchez and Padilla in the final 15 seconds.
The run gave the Warriors a 24-22 halftime lead.
“We got some really quick layups from Sanchez and Padilla and our confidence shot way up,” Central coach Phil Cain said. “We weren’t getting much from our half-court offense so we needed some transition buckets.”
Central began to pull away in the third quarter, led by 10 points from Padilla. Padilla, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, scored many of his points by getting ahead of the pack on missed Palisade shots.
“We can run on teams,” Padilla said. “When we started running we got some easy layups.”
Palisade coach Steve Phillips said the Warriors’ transition baskets resulted because the Bulldogs veered from their offense, which focuses on attacking the basket.
“We took some ill-advised shots and poorly timed shots that led to a long rebound,” Phillips said. “Our guys weren’t able to get back defensively and Central took advantage of it.”
Central continued to cruise in the fourth quarter, holding a 48-37 lead with 2:30 remaining, before the Bulldogs made one final push.
Caleb Hall nailed a 3-pointer that was followed by a Gabe Hellmann steal and layup to cut the Warriors’ lead to 48-42.
Gunther got aggressive for the Bulldogs and brought Palisade to within three with back-to-back layups and one free throw.
Palisade trailed 52-49 with 30 seconds remaining.
Central’s Edward Becoat made a free throw to push the Warriors’ lead to four at 53-49 before Palisade’s final attempts fell short.
“We built some confidence by hanging onto that lead.” Cain said. “It got a little shaky, but we hit a few free throws and stayed with it.”
Padilla led the Warriors with 15 points and Sanchez added 13 to secure Central’s first win.
“It feels really good to win a game,” Padilla said. “We are learning to play as a team and we’ll go from here.”
Gunther led the Bulldogs with 21 points. Palisade begins Western Slope League play Friday at Eagle Valley.
“We would have like to win tonight, but we couldn’t get it done,” Phillips said. “We have to be ready for Friday.”