Sends a message to the state
Heading into last week, Titans head coach Robin Loyed explained to his team that if they could put together three wins in a row, it would send a message to the rest of the state that Crested Butte hoops is for real.
It started off well when they defeated seventh-ranked Creede, but the rally was interrupted by a loss to tenth-ranked Cotopaxi on Saturday, December 15.
The only way to salvage the three-game run and still send a message was to defeat 3A-size school Cedaredge on Tuesday, December 18.
There are a couple of differences between a 3A-size school and the smaller 1A schools, such as Crested Butte, when it comes to sports.
One difference is size—that is, the size of the individuals. The other difference is speed.
The Titans looked to match up fairly evenly with the Cedaredge Bruins size-wise, so the Bruins coach looked to exploit Crested Butte with speed.
“Forrest Gump offense—run, run, run,” he instructed.
The Bruins followed their coach’s advice from the opening tip-off with an explosive transition game that left the Titans scrambling to get back on defense.
The Bruins coupled their transition with a full-court-press to take a 5-0 lead in the first minute of the game.
That is, until Titan junior John Wright caught his breath and proceeded to score 11 points in the first quarter. Wright opened by driving to the hole through traffic twice for lay-ups. When they laid off him to shut down the paint, he pulled up for a three-pointer, forcing his defender to step out on him.
When he did that, Wright drove to the hoop again for two more baskets.
Yet, each of Wright’s efforts was countered by the Bruins’ transition game and Cedaredge closed the first quarter with an 18-14 lead.
The Titans responded in the second quarter, crashing the boards to create follow-up opportunities on offense, but had trouble finishing.
The Titans managed to slow the Bruins down and took a 21-20 lead on a 14-foot jump shot from senior Daniel Hargrove but the Bruins sank two free throws to take the lead back at the end of the half.
With the Cedaredge defense keyed on Wright in the third quarter, the rest of the Titans stepped up to go on a 16-point scoring spree.
Junior Robbie Holleran hit a three-point shot from the top and both Holleran and senior Will Curry slipped through for lay-ups to give Crested Butte a 28-24 lead.
Senior Randy Evans pulled down an offensive rebound and kissed his shot off the glass for two more Titan points, and senior Alexei Desmarais broke free for a three-pointer to take a seven-point Titans’ lead.
Hargrove and Evans added two more buckets to put the Titans up 37-26 with two minutes left in the third quarter, until the wheels fell off the Titans rally train.
The Bruins responded to close the third quarter with a 12-4 run, cutting the Titans’ lead back down to three points with one quarter left to play.
Holleran left the game in the third quarter with four fouls, but returned in force for the fourth quarter, crashing the boards and scoring five of his 14 points.
After a scoreless third quarter, Wright came back to add four points to his team-leading 18 points; Hargrove tossed in five points to hold off the Bruins’ late game surge and seal the 59-48 win.
Taking all three games was Loyed’s goal but to finish the tough week with two of three wins should turn some heads in the state.
The Titans will hit the road for a game against Nucla on Wednesday, January 9 and then return to Mt. Olympus on Friday, January 11 to host Moffat at 5:30 p.m.