Without a pair of their big guns, the Demons ran out of steam.
The Durango High School boys basketball team couldn’t keep pace with Palisade, falling 63-41 on Saturday in the championship game of the Class 4A Southwestern League/Western Slope League District Championships at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
The Demons played without forward Nick Hamlin and guard Dane Mestas, both of whom usually start for DHS, because of ankle injuries to both players. Durango, which will find out its postseason placement today, likely is hoping for a high enough seed to avoid a first-round game Wednesday, allowing both players a couple of extra days to heal.
“It hurt big,” DHS head coach Alan Batiste said of the injuries. “But we can’t make any excuses. Other players just have to step up.
“We didn’t get the job done (Saturday).”
The Bulldogs (17-5) grabbed the top postseason placement for the region by jumping out early, taking advantage of a short DHS bench and tired Durango legs to roll out to a 29-12 halftime lead. Durango was unable to maintain its usually stingy defensive output.
“They jumped out early on us. I think it was 13-2. It was fast when they jumped out, but they never looked back after that,” Batiste said.
Willy Frownfelter led the Demons (16-6) with 19 points – 16 in the second half – and DHS freshman Lucas Baken scored 17.
Batiste was complimentary of the energy provided by Isiah Mayberry.
Batiste said he’s still confident DHS will end up with a first-round bye but would’ve been happier with a tournament title.
“I think we’ll be fine. If we get a 6-seed, Palisade will get a 5. If we get a 7, Palisade will get a 6. ... We’ll cross our fingers and see how it goes,” he said.
DHS soon will find out.