Prepare for pivotal road trip
The night was particularly casual—you could tell from the dress of head coach Robin Loyed. Loyed is known for his pressed slacks, dress shoes and oxford/sweater combo. But on this particular night in Mt. Olympus, Loyed opted for cowboy boots and jeans and an oxford, albeit a pressed oxford.
While Aguilar may not be the strongest team the Titans face, they did appear to have a strategy in place—the longer they have the ball, the less time the Titans would have it, and thus, the less the Titans would score.
After three minutes of scoreless hoops, sophomore Anton Peck spun to the basket for a lay-up but Aguilar responded with a three-pointer to take the lead.
Eventually, the Titans stepped out on defense to break up Aguilar’s strategy, building a 12-5 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“I think they [Aguilar] were struggling to find an opening on offense,” says Loyed.
The Titans starters set a furious pace in the first quarter and the bench players followed suit in the second quarter, sending freshman Jesse Reeves and Graham Koval and sophomore Luis Aguirre out on the floor. The young team answered the call for more hustle, lunging for suspect passes by the Panthers and creating turnovers to set up baskets.
“I think our bench has stepped up over the last month or so,” explains Loyed.
Paced by the hustle of the young Titans, Crested Butte held Aguilar scoreless to take a 23-point lead into halftime.
Up 38-9 going into in the fourth, Loyed looked further down the bench knowing that varsity minutes, no matter what the score, are key to a young player’s development. Sean Johnson and Cal Fenerty got the nod and were on the floor. Fenerty provided insight into what lies ahead for him in his basketball future: hard-nosed defense. And Johnson made the most of his time battling underneath the basket for points.
With just over two minutes left in the game, Loyed gave the nod to Baron Farnell. Farnell is no stranger to late-game crowd-pleasing heroics with a couple of buzzer-beater buckets to his name over the course of the past two seasons.
Once again, Farnell came through as he cut wide to the wing to receive a pass with Aguilar’s big man in his face. Farnell lowered his shoulder and drove the lane, pulling up to drain a short four-foot jumper, icing the Titans’ 46-18 win.
Junior Henry Linehan led all scorers with 14 points; Peck dropped in 10 points had five rebounds and two blocks; and junior Jake Grogg anchored the Titans’ press coming up with eight steals. Ultimately, nine different Titans put points on the board and that has Loyed extending his rotation to keep fresh legs on the floor as much as possible.
“We’re going to a nine-man rotation and the guys who work hard are going to get to play,” says Loyed. “I’m really liking the play of the younger guys.”
The Titans now will hit the road for a three-game weekend that could make or break the rest of the season for the team.
“It’s a huge road trip for us,” says Loyed. “If we win two, we’ll be right where we thought we’d be.”
Loyed added that a couple of losses could set the Titans back into the middle of the pack, but winning all three will send a message that Crested Butte is a team to be reckoned with.
They return to Mt. Olympus on Friday, January 29 to face league powerhouse Creede.