Athlete of the Week: Donovan Maestas and Palisade hoops

The Bulldogs started the season 3-7, but caught fire over the last few weeks, winning six straight games
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 9:35 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Palisade boys basketball has quickly become one of the best sports stories on the Western Slope. The Bulldogs lost three games in a row to start the season, dropping to a 3-7 record through their first 10 games.

Then, Palisade caught fire. 6 straight wins have propelled the Bulldogs into a playoff spot, with the last of those coming Saturday, in maybe the best game we’ve seen all season.

“We’re working our tails off,” says head coach Cory Hitchcock. “Hard work, being coachable, playing together and playing tough defense is winning us these basketball games.”

Donovan Maestas leads the team in pretty much every statistical category. He’s averaging more than 15 points per game, up to nearly 20 points in league play.

“We’re a completely different team than we were at the beginning of the season,” Maestas told us. “I think it all starts in practice. We push each other everyday, we buy in, we just hold ourselves to a higher standard nowadays.”

While Maestas has certainly helped spark this historic run, Coach Hitchcock says it’s a full team effort. Everyone is buying in, everyone is playing defense and playing for each other.

“We’re a different team because people realize if we do things the right way and focus what we need to focus on, that we can win some basketball games.”

Palisade’s winning streak looked over on Saturday, with the Bulldogs trailing by 7 points in the final few minutes. Maestas came back into the game with 2:30 on the clock, then Palisade outscored Glenwood Springs 9-2, forcing overtime with a game-tying three. Once they started the comeback, Palisade was going to finish it no matter what.

“I told our guys when we tied it up that if we go to overtime we’re gonna win this basketball game,” Hitchock said. “I’m happy for these boys man, so happy for these boys.”

Paul Steinke had 26 points in that game, including that three-point dagger. He’s also become a large part of the hottest team in Colorado.

Palisade rides a 6-game win streak into a really tough matchup with Eagle Valley on Friday night. They are the top team in the Western Slope League.

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