Emerge with two wins
Beat up but not beat down, the Crested Butte boys’ basketball team battled through a three-game road trip to emerge with two wins last weekend.
The trouble for the Titans began during practice last week as leading scorer sophomore Anton Peck suffered a near season-ending ankle injury. In addition, freshman Graham Koval was nursing a foot injury that limited his availability.
The Titans opened the weekend Thursday, January 21 against league powerhouse and fourth-ranked in the state Primero. While Peck and Koval were both rendered useless for the big game, Loyed still had starting junior point guard Henry Linehan to run the floor and handle Primero’s press. That is, until the second quarter when Linehan took a head butt to the occipital lobe that split his head wide open.
To make matters worse, the Titans struggled from the perimeter all game long.
“We were getting good looks—we just couldn’t hit them,” says Loyed.
Despite all of that, the Titans defense remained solid and the Titans were down just seven points at halftime.
Linehan returned to the floor, butterfly bandages and all, but Primero’s press proved too much to handle for the battered Titans squad, as they fell 50-32.
Junior Jake Grogg did all he could to keep the team together, finishing the game with 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks, but the team shot a dismal 29 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 25 times.
“We were banged up, not at full strength, didn’t shoot well and paid the price,” says Loyed.
Linehan made a trip to the local hospital following the game, and the team relaxed and recovered that night in a nearby hotel to prepare for league opponent Holy Trinity the following day.
With Linehan stitched up, Peck’s ankle on the mend and Grogg still in charge, the Titans jumped out on Holy Trinity with an oppressive full-court press.
Their play led to a 30-11 lead on Holy Trinity in the first half and Loyed turned to his bench to finish the game. The subs closed the game out with continued solid shooting and the Titans rolled to a 54-31 win.
Grogg led the team again with 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Linehan used his one good eye to score 12 points and dish out four assists and Peck continued his rehab with nine points and eight rebounds.
One more night in a hotel and one more bus trip took the Titans to San Luis to face the Centennial Rams on Saturday, January 23.
With the Titans team nearly back to full strength, they strolled into a packed Centennial gym to take on the Rams on their homecoming weekend.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” says Loyed. “It was a real charged atmosphere.”
Both teams started the game pressing and never let up for four quarters of nonstop action.
Peck was back to his old tricks in the paint, working through the Centennial defense for 10 first-half points, sophomore Luis Aguirre buried a three-pointer and junior Sky Egelhoff scored four more points as the Titans took a 23-14 lead into halftime.
But a 23-minute halftime/homecoming break cooled the Titans off for the third quarter and Centennial started clawing their way back into the game.
With Linehan in foul trouble, Koval came off the injured reserve to shoulder the ball handling responsibilities amidst a frantic Centennial press and a raucous crowd.
Centennial pulled to within four points early in the fourth quarter, but the Titans responded with three quick baskets to rebuild their 10-point lead.
Yet, with the throngs of hometown support on their side, the Rams came charging back again, cutting the Crested Butte lead down to two points with two minutes left.
Egelhoff hit one of two free throws to put the Titans up 42-39 as the clock dwindled down.
Centennial looked to set up their three-point specialist for the game-tying bucket, but Linehan denied him the ball the final 30 seconds and came up with a steal as the Titans held on for the 42-39 win.
Peck closed the weekend scoring 15 points and pulling down six rebounds against Centennial, and Egelhoff put in a complete game with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.
“They lost their poise for a little bit, but they got it back,” says Loyed. “That was a crucial win for us.”
The Titans will have their hands full this Friday, January 29 as they host Creede at Mt. Olympus at 5:30 p.m.
“We really need a quality win and we’ll have our chance with Creede this Friday,” says Loyed.