Enter as the number three seed
The Crested Butte Titans boy’s basketball team advanced to the Great Eight of the 1A state tournament for the second year in a row, with wins over Eads and South Baca last weekend at Adams State College in Alamosa.
Free throw shooting led the Titans to a 57-48 win over Eads on Friday, March 6. While Eads’ defense managed to shake up the Titans shooting from the floor, the Titans found a way to win by hitting 32 of 35 free throws.
Eads opened the game with a box-in-one on senior John Wright and while the ploy worked to disrupt Wright, it opened the door for senior Robbie Holleran, sophomore Jake Grogg and freshman Anton Peck underneath.
With Wright taken out of the picture, the Titans proceeded to push the ball inside to exploit the box zone Eads had in place.
After a tight first quarter, the Titans erupted in the second quarter outscoring Eads 28-18 to take a 37-26 lead into halftime.
Eads adjusted to slow the Titans down in the third quarter, holding Crested Butte to just 10 points to cut their lead down to seven points.
Eads continued to chip away at the Titans’ lead, pulling to within one point with four minutes left to play before the Titans defense turned up the pressure, stopping Eads in two straight possessions.
Loyed switched to a spread offense down the stretch forcing Eads to foul and the Titans responded, scoring 15 points from the free throw line to ice the win.
“We were out of sync offensively and the guys responded,” says coach Robin Loyed. “If we didn’t hit those free throws, we would not win the game.”
Holleran led the team with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Wright hit 14 of 15 free throws, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds and Grogg and Peck combined for 12 points.
“That was a tough ball game,” says Loyed. “It was one of those games where the boys just found a way to win. Everyone had to step up because the pressure was really good.”
The Titans advanced to the round of 16 with the win to face the South Baca Patriots on Saturday, March 7.
Crested Butte opened the game on fire, running through the Patriots man-to-man defense in the opening three minutes.
Wright started with a bucket inside and a 12-foot jumper. Holleran pulled up for a six-foot jumper and senior Chris Sharpe drained a three-pointer as the Titans built an 11-0 lead before the Patriots coach could call a timeout.
South Baca pulled to within four points before sophomore Henry Linehan hit a 14-foot jump shot and Holleran dropped in a bucket at the end of the quarter for a 17-11 Titans lead.
Wright continued to exploit the Patriots’ man-to-man defense, scoring nine of the Titans’ 13 points in the second quarter.
After hitting a three-pointer from pro range, Wright’s man stepped out to mark up and Wright blew by him, driving to the hole for two more.
South Baca responded to stay in step with the Titans, pulling the Titans out of their game plan for the remainder of the first half.
“We lost our poise in the first half,” says Loyed. “I told the guys at halftime, let’s get our poise back and execute like we know how to do.”
Crested Butte took over in the third quarter paced by three-pointers from Wright and Sharpe to take a 47-28 lead midway through the third quarter.
Holleran led the Titans into the fourth quarter with their first five points, including a tip-in off a missed jumper and Crested Butte finished the game off with their patented spread offense and tight defense to win 55-41 and advance to the Great Eight.
After a tough time in Friday’s game, Wright returned to the spotlight against South Baca, leading the team with 23 points. Holleran dropped in 17 points and Sharpe added 11.
“It was our seniors stepping up and taking over the game,” says Loyed. “We hit six of 13 from three-point range and that was a big part of the win.”
In addition, the Titans defense held all but one of South Baca’s scorers to single digits, proving once again that defense can lead to titles.
Crested Butte will now head to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley for the round of eight in the 1A state tournament. They open with a game against Flagler on Thursday, March 12 at 8:45 a.m.
“It’s great this year because we’ve been there already,” says Loyed. “These guys hit every goal we set for this year and now we’re going to see if we can shake up 1A basketball and teams from the Eastern Plains.”
If the Titans win Thursday, they advance to the Final Four to play the winner of the Kit Carson/Otis game on Friday, March 13 at 4 p.m.
If you can’t make it to Greeley, games will be broadcast on the radio on KEJJ 98.3 FM.
Or you can watch the game online at atwsportscast.com , click on Fox31 Prep Zone, click on 1A to view live.