Steamboat senior Kit Croop attempts to make a shot after getting fouled in the first quarter of Friday night's boy's high school basketball game between Steamboat and Palisade.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat senior Kit Croop attempts to make a shot after getting fouled in the first quarter of Friday night's boy's high school basketball game between Steamboat and Palisade.

Steamboat boys basketball falls short at buzzer against Palisade

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Steamboat's Justin Ditter attempts a layup during Friday night's boy's high school basketball game between Steamboat and Palisade.

— The Western Slope League title will go through Palisade.

The Bulldogs, leaders of the league coming in, did what few teams can on Friday, dispatching of Steamboat, 54-51, in the Sailors’ home gym.

Palisade (11-2, 4-0), jumped out to double-digit leads in the second and fourth quarters and staved off furious Steamboat comebacks.

“I hope we’re maturing,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “We’re gaining a lot of trust in each other. Guys believe in each other. Close wins like this give us confidence.”

The Bulldogs took it to the Sailors early, using guard pressure to cause turnovers. Steamboat, behind 14 first-half turnovers, found itself down 30-20 at halftime.

But the Sailors responded in a big way in the third, thanks in large part to 12 combined points from the backcourt of Justin Ditter and Carter Kounovsky.

Steamboat (6-8, 2-2) outscored Palisade 18-8 in the third quarter and sent things into the fourth tied at 38.

The teams traded baskets early in the fourth and Steamboat had a chance to take its first lead of the game at the 6:26 mark, but Eric Trousil missed a pair of free throws.

Palisade went on a 10-0 run to make it 52-42 with 1:40 left.

But the Bulldogs made only 5 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter to keep the Sailors in it.

Steamboat’s Kit Croop hit a deep 3-pointer to make it 54-51 with 33 seconds left. Croop had two chances to tie it but missed contested 3’s. Steamboat had the ball with three seconds left in the game, but a turnover ended it.

“You add some of those mistakes from earlier and those are the things that came back to haunt us,” Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. “For us I thought the second half was good. They hit some big shots. Give them credit for hitting those shots.”

Steamboat plays at home at 2 p.m. Saturday against Delta.

By the numbers

Palisade boys 54, Steamboat 51

Palisade 19-11-8-16 — 54

Steamboat 16-4-18-13 — 51

Palisade — Jered Kusal 4 0-2 9, Kyle Monger 6 0-4 12, Kane Gunther 4 6-8 14, Jesus Aguirre 4 2-4 10, Connor Whaley 0 0-3 0, Caleb Hall 1 0-0 3, Tyler Graham 1 0-0 2, Zach Marengo 1 2-2 4. Totals 21 10-23 54

Steamboat — Justin Ditter 4 5-5 13, Carter Kounovshy 2 2-3 8, Kit Croop 4 1-2 12, Eric Trousil 3 0-3 6, Jake Miller 4 2-3 10, Robby Davis 1 0-0 2, Ben Custer 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-16 51.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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