Steamboat Springs It's easy to see where the Palisade girls basketball team gets its success.
Post players Bernadette Pitre and Holly Odneal hover above most of their opponents and can take over a game. And head coach Jay D. Muller said there's something else that drives Palisade: the team's guards.
Pitre and Odneal certainly made their presence felt, combining for 28 points and 24 rebounds in Saturday's 52-33 win against Steamboat, but Muller said it was a prime example of how important the Bulldogs' guards are. The combo of Megan Miller and Sarah Hayes scored 17 points, picked up 11 steals and set the tempo defensively.
"When our guards don't play well, our posts are never a factor," Muller said. "When they've had a good game, it allows us to really open up some opportunities. Then defenses can't key on the inside."
Steamboat, on the other hand, continued to struggle with too many turnovers and offensive inconsistency.
Sailors coach John Ameen said he was pleased with the way his guards were able to break the Bulldogs full-court, man-to-man defense, but when it came to getting into the offense, that's where Steamboat struggled.
"We just have to get (all-around) better," Ameen said. "On every aspect of taking care of the basketball, handling the pressure, being able to run offensive sets and the quickness in our defense."
For the second straight night, Steamboat was seemingly in the game early. But whenever the Sailors were at a critical juncture, the Bulldogs would score and Steamboat would come up with an empty possession.
Steamboat cut the Palisade lead to 16-11 just 15 seconds into the second quarter. But with a chance to get back into the game, the Sailors hit a funk.
Palisade finished the half on a 13-2 run to take a 29-15 lead into the break.
"We're kind of going back and forth and then we end up with empty possessions," Ameen said. "We weren't quick enough at the defensive ends at those critical junctures."
Any hopes of a Steamboat comeback were dashed when Palisade started the second half on a 6-0 run to push its lead to 46-23 with 4 minutes, 41 seconds left in the third quarter.
Gracie Stockdale led Steamboat with 10 points. Colleen King added eight points and eight rebounds, while Darcy Hornstein chipped in six points and eight rebounds.
"We have to get back some energy and tenacity," Ameen said. "This weekend, going into these games, I thought we would have it. Basketball is a long season. It's a mentality, every possession is focus. Every possession is energy. You go out there until you want to collapse, take a break on the bench and take a break next to me, and then you go out there and do it again."
Steamboat next plays at 6 p.m. Friday at home against Moffat County.