Zoned out

Durango's 2-3 zone too much for Bulldogs

Palisade’s Caden Woods finds himself sandwiched between Durango defenders Nick Hamlin, left, and Isaih Mayberry beneath the basket as he tries to take a shot during the first half of Saturday’s game at the Palisade Sunrie Rotary Club 2012 Inviational basketball tournament at Palisade High School. The Bulldogs lost 50-43.

Many have been grinding since the fall. The Palisade boys basketball team, many of whom played football, crossed an imaginary finish line Saturday, perhaps weary and welcoming Christmas break.

Durango (5-2) defeated Palisade 50-43 on Saturday at the Palisade Sunrise Rotary Club Invitational, running a 2-3 zone defense all game. And despite seven 3-pointers from Palisade (5-3), the Demons stayed in the traditional zone defense that stacks bodies down low, but can be prone to outside shooting.

Daniel Ness had 13 points and three 3-pointers, two of which came early in the fourth quarter and left the Bulldogs down 38-37.

“We just decided we needed to shoot against the zone, and (the zone) needed to be spaced out,” Ness said. “And I was feeling pretty good.”

But the Bulldogs, who do not run a 2-3 defense, had hardly faced the zone this season. Palisade coach Brain Tafel said the Bulldogs have played against zones such as a 3-2 and 1-3-1. “Because we don’t run the 2-3 it’s hard to simulate a zone,” Tafel said.

And in the low block, the defense helped limit post player Jesus Aguirre to five points.

“I think we flustered them a little with our zone,” Durango coach Alan Batiste said. “We forced them to shoot from the outside. We were going to make them beat us from the outside.”

In a three-minute span to open the fourth quarter, Ness had the two 3-pointers. But Durango was ready to match. The Demons countered with 3-pointers from Lucas Bacon and Nate Atencio.

The teams scored 18 points during the offensive flurry, Palisade with 10 of them.

Later in the quarter, Skyler Miller drilled a 3-pointer from NBA range to pull the Bulldogs to within 47-43.

But Durango wound the final minute down with a patient offense, sometimes holding the basketball, and Palisade couldn’t capitalize when the Demons missed four free throws.

The good news for Palisade? Break time. And it might be better to go into it off a loss than a win, Tafel said.

Last season, Palisade won 14 consecutive games before finally losing to Eagle Valley in late January. Palisade went 4-4 the rest of the way.

“Down the stretch,” Tafel said, “I’d rather trade wins in December for wins in February and March anyway.”

For the first time in five months, football players Luke McLean, Caden Woods, Zach Marengo, Levi Hoaglund and Tass Crow will have an opportunity for prolonged rest.

“I think it’s going to be good for us,” Tafel said. “Just physically getting their bodies back and rested. It’s a tough football season anyway, especially the way our football program is. It’s tough on their bodies.”

Also for Palisade, Marengo had seven points.

“Lately, we’ve had two, three, four kids playing well,” Tafel said. “We’ve got to get seven kids playing well as a group, and we’ll be tough. By the end of the year we’ll have 10 kids who will have had double-digit scoring games.”


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