Bulldogs win after late comeback

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Derek Duran is the third leading scorer in Colorado's Class 4A, and he's probably the state's leader in layups.

"The layup is my shot," he said. "I get my points from the free throw line and with the layup."

Duran was the master of the layup in the fourth quarter, when he scored 14 unanswered points against Palisade to bring Moffat County back from a seven-point deficit to lead by seven with 2:33 left in the game.

The visitors from Palisade rallied to have a chance to win in the final 10 seconds, but Moffat held on for a 52-50 win.

Duran and coach Scott Parker credited their team's defense during the final eight minutes.

"It all started from making some stops on defense," Parker said. "Then we started to make some stops and get some turnovers."

During the five-minute span that Duran had 14 unanswered points, Palisade turned the ball over five times. Palisade's lead of 43-36 turned into a 50-43 deficit.

"When you turn the ball over and take stupid shots, you're going to give good players a chance to get back in the game," Palisade coach Keenon Clement said. "Derek's a good player, but we made him look even better tonight."

Duran looked really good the second half. He scored 22 of the Bulldogs' 26 points. He finished the game with 30.

"We earned an early lead, and then we let down," he said. "Then, after some patience, we dug ourselves back out of the hole we created."

Both teams did some digging throughout the game.

Palisade trailed 13-4 in the first quarter but came back to take an 18-17 lead with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first half.

Moffat's offense converted only four points in eight minutes of play during that span.

Palisade then outscored Moffat 18-8 in the third quarter to take a 41-34 lead into the last period.

After Duran's rally, Palisade went on a 7-1 run from 2:33 to 31.7 seconds to close within one point. On the final play of that stretch, junior Tanner Whaley stole an inbounds pass and scored to bring the score to 51-50.

Palisade's Cory Swetnam them tied up Duran with 15.8 seconds left. The possession area went to Palisade. The maroon Bulldogs called timeout with 8.9 seconds left to set up the final shot.

A traveling call with 5.8 seconds left kept Palisade from taking the potential winning shot. Duran was fouled with 2.8 seconds left, and he hit one of two free throws to give his team the 52-50 win.

Moffat's offense clicked when the defense created all night. Parker said the first and fourth quarter performances were what he hoped to see the rest of the season.

"We've had more chemistry, and we've worked together on defense the last two games," he said. "The first time around the league, we didn't make enough of our own breaks. Tonight, we played well enough to create some of our own breaks."

Duran couldn't agree more.

"That run felt awesome," Duran said. "We have our first winning streak in league now, so we can build from that."

It was a tough loss to swallow for Clement and his boys. Especially after they took the first meeting of the teams, 61-49.

"When both teams are similar in record and ability, a 14-0 run is going to make the difference," he said. "They had more opportunities late."

Moffat improved to 4-4 and is tied with Palisade for fourth in the Western Slope League. Janis Zeibots led Palisade with 16 points. Swetnam had 12, and Devin Schmitt had 10.

Moffat had four players score. In addition to Duran's 33 points, Kevin Loughran had eight, J.T. Haddan had four, and Jarrod Holmlund had four.

Tonight, Moffat suits back up for a game against 2-6 Delta.

"Delta is an athletic team that we have to be ready for," Parker said. "We have to be fundamentally sound and get up and down the court."

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