Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lady Titans poised to surge

Big game at home this Friday

Confidence is building among the players of the Lady Titans high school basketball team. And while they lost both games this past weekend at home, including a tough overtime loss, coach Brandin Hamilton can see a difference from the same team that suffered two big losses just one week ago.
“I feel like the girls are starting to get it,” says Hamilton. “This last weekend was a confidence booster.”
Going into their first game of the weekend on Friday, February 11 against Custer County, confidence was low among the Lady Titans.
“The sense on the team was, let’s not get blown out,” says Hamilton. “They started out tight but as the game wore on, they gained confidence.”
The Lady Titans offense struggled through the first quarter scoring only four points but their defense held Custer County to just five points.
Custer County opened the second quarter with two quick baskets to go up 9-4 but before Crested Butte suffered through an early game-crushing scoring run, Hamilton called a timeout.
The break was just what the Lady Titans needed as they closed the second quarter with a 9-3 run of their own capped by a jumper from freshman Shannon Costello at the buzzer to take a 13-12 lead into halftime.
“That was a much needed run,” says Hamilton. “We weren’t playing terrible, we just weren’t putting the ball in the basket.”
After trading baskets for most of the third quarter, Custer County scored the last six points to take a 25-19 lead.
Custer County looked to finish the Lady Titans off with a full court press but Crested Butte sliced through it and climbed back into the game.
Sophomore point guard Madie Stichter fouled out with three minutes left and Custer County managed to hold off a late Lady Titans run by hitting five of their last six free throws to escape with a 37-33 win.
Senior Shannon Holleran led the team with nine points, Stichter scored seven, Costello six and senior Karleigh Dean added six more.
While a loss is a loss, the Lady Titans came into their game Saturday, February 12 against the Sargent Farmers renewed from their effort Friday night.
“The girls were pumped,” says Hamilton. “They really believed in themselves.”
Costello led the Lady Titans early scoring seven of their first nine points. The Farmers shooters got hot in the second quarter to pace the team to a 19-11 lead but the Lady Titans had the last say in the first half scoring in the final seconds to keep the Farmers lead down to six points.
The effort at the end of the second quarter carried over to the third quarter and Holleran took over scoring the next six Lady Titans’ points.
Dean flashed into the low post to get a pass and score and the Lady Titans had their first lead of the game up 21-20 with three minutes left in the third.
Costello followed with a 12-foot jumper and the Lady Titans were rolling until a Sargent three-pointer put the brakes on.
“Offensively, we were clicking,” says Hamilton.
Consecutive jumper from Stichter and a basket by Holleran rebuilt the Lady Titans four-point lead with four minutes left. Sargent switched to a full court press rattling the Lady Titans and forcing turnovers.
The Farmers hit two free throws down the stretch to take a 31-29 lead with 35 seconds left but Crested Butte came back up court and tied the game. Costello drove the baseline and dished to Dean underneath for an easy bucket in the paint.
Sargent came back up court to set up for the final game-winning shot but the Lady Titan’s defense clamped down and Costello blocked the shot to force the game into overtime.
“I loved that last possession on defense,” says Hamilton. “Sargent was in the bonus so we couldn’t foul them. We just played straight up tough defense.”
In the overtime, the Titans foul trouble eventually let the game get away. The two teams traded baskets to open the overtime but Sargent closed the game at the line to pull away for the 43-35 win.
“We hit two shots, they hit two shots and then a slew of free throws,” explains Hamilton.
Holleran led the Lady Titans with 12 points and nine defensive rebounds. Costello scored nine points and Stichter eight. Dean tossed in four and made a point of keeping the lane open for Holleran to grab her nine rebounds.
“Karleigh didn’t get a lot of rebounds but she kept someone off the glass so Holleran could clean house,” says Hamilton.
Despite losing both games, the team is fired up to finish the regular season with a series of wins.
“I think they finally believe they can play with anyone and they’re really fired up about the games this weekend,” says Hamilton.
The Lady Titans host Antonito in mighty Mt. Olympus on Friday, February 18 at 5:30 p.m. and then head to South Park on Saturday. If the Lady Titans win Friday night, they will host a district playoff game in Mt. Olympus on Monday, February 21.

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