Barron Farnell with the buzzer beater
It’s good to know that while a team from a private Christian high school in Texas is busy pummeling its winless opponent 100-0 with the fans reportedly in full support, some semblance of civility and sportsmanship remains intact in Colorado.
Such was the case on Friday, January 23 when the Crested Butte Titans faced the Holy Trinity Tigers in Mt. Olympus.
Granted, the Titans did hand the Tigers, a young squad of six players, an 84-42 loss.
Senior John Wright shot 14 of 17 from the floor to lead the team with 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Senior Chris Sharpe continued his series of double-digit scoring, knocking down a career-high 23 points, and senior Robbie Holleran registered a first-ever triple-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and a team-record 14 assists.
“The big three were huge again,” says coach Robin Loyed.
The purest moment of the game came through in the waning moments of the fourth quarter when Titan Barron Farnell was sent into action by coach Robin Loyed.
Farnell sees limited playing time but when he does get on the court, he always makes the most of it.
With Farnell in the game, the Titans, with the support of the Holy Trinity squad, set up an isolation to Farnell, giving him the ball and the green light to shoot. The Tigers defense fell back as Farnell worked to get an open shot.
The shot missed its mark but as the Tigers carried the ball up court a “misplay” kicked the ball out of bounds with nine seconds left, giving the ball back to Crested Butte.
Loyed called for Farnell once again and as the ball hit his hands, it appeared as if time itself stood still. Farnell looked to the hoop and let go. The shot missed but his follow-up was spot-on and as the ball drained through, the buzzer sounded sending both teams, both sets of fans and anyone else in attendance into a roar as the Holy Trinity team mobbed Farnell to congratulate him on his “buzzer-beater.”
The Titans found themselves in a much tighter situation the following day when they hosted the Centennial Rams on Saturday, January 24.
Prior to the start of the game, coach Loyed mentioned the deadly perimeter shooting of the Rams as a major concern, adding that open shots for Centennial and turnovers by the Titans could spell trouble.
After the first quarter, his concern was turning into a nightmare.
While the Rams’ triangle and two defense worked to slow down both Holleran and Wright, their shooters hit three from beyond the three-point arc, building a 15-11 lead by the close of the first quarter.
Loyed took the break to point out the team’s defensive roles in shutting down the perimeter. The Titans responded, jumping out on the Centennial shooters while the Titans offense adjusted.
The two teams traded baskets in the opening minutes of the second quarter until Sharpe drained two in a row from three-point range to put the Titans on top 21-19.
Centennial tied it up once more before Wright seemingly decided enough was enough. Wright proved, once again, why he is an all-state player and why he is being courted by a number of college coaches.
Wright took the ball end-to-end on three separate occasions, the final one coming with a spinning finger roll through three players to cap a Titans’ 24-point run and giving the Titans a slight six-point cushion at the half.
“I went back over my concern with their shooters and turnovers at halftime with some animation,” says Loyed.
The team heeded Loyed’s words and Centennial’s effort in the first half eventually took its toll as the Titans managed to ostensibly shut down their shooters with a swarming defense, pacing the Titans to a phenomenal third quarter as they built a 53-37 lead with one quarter left to play.
“This team is that way,” says Loyed. “Our defense in the third quarter is always better than in any other quarter.”
In fact, the Titans are holding opponents to an average of 6.4 points in the third quarter alone.
It only got worse for the Rams as Crested Butte held them to just three points in the fourth quarter, while Wright scored eight of his total 27 points to lead the Titans to a 69-40 win.
“They executed the offense beautifully and executed the press break in the second half,” says Loyed. “That second half was just a fine team effort.”
Holleran came close to his second triple-double in a row with 18 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists; sophomore Henry Linehan continues to establish himself at the point guard spot with five points and six assists; and freshman Anton Peck scored five points and pulled in five rebounds.
A huge test for the Titans rests on the horizon though, as they head to Creede on Friday, January 30 to face the Miners. Crested Butte ousted the Miners earlier in the season but Creede is always tough, looking to spoil the Titans’ perfect 12-0 record.
The Titans then return home to Mt. Olympus to face Primero on Saturday, January 31 at 6 p.m.
“This weekend will be the defining moment of the regular season,” says Loyed. “This is our chance to nail it down, but it’s going to be tough.”