Gutsy effort leads Crested Butte
Heading into last week, the Lady Titans were banged up, with one starter out for the season and two others hampered by injury.
Coach MaryMike Haley was forced to rest and rehabilitate some of her players while preparing the rest for the upcoming games.
The rest, rehabilitation and review paid off on Friday, February 3 as the Lady Titans came out with some inspired physical play and a full game of effort to edge out a 50-46 win over the South Park Burros in Mt. Olympus.
“We had a pretty good week of practice and they showed up against South Park,” says Haley.
The Burros opened the game with full court pressure hoping to rattle the young Titans team early, but the Lady Titans responded, shredding the Burros press to set up two easy baskets from sophomore Suzanna Dumas.
The Burros put together a brief run midway through the first quarter but the Lady Titans reeled them back in, scoring the last three points of the first quarter to cut the South Park lead to one.
Sophomore Shannon Costello took over the game in the opening minutes of the second quarter to lead a rally by the Lady Titans. After draining a ten-foot jumper, Costello pulled down a rebound to push the ball up court to Dumas for another two points and then stole the ball on South Park’s next possession for another lay-up and a 13-12 Crested Butte lead.
The Burros’ coach called a timeout to quash the rally but the Lady Titans came out of the break on fire, scoring the next six points before South Park closed the first half with a four-point run to cut the Lady Titans lead down to two points heading into halftime.
South Park’s leading scorer took control of the third quarter to carry the Burros to a seven-point advantage before Crested Butte refocused to mount a comeback.
Junior Maddie Stichter sparked the rally with a three-point play, followed by a huge offensive rebound by Monika Olesen. Olesen scrapped for the ball and slipped it underneath to Costello for two and Stichter capped the rally, driving through traffic to score and giving the lead back to the Lady Titans heading into the fourth quarter.
While the effort was inspiring, Haley had her concerns as she talked to her team prior to the final eight minutes.
“At the beginning of the fourth quarter I was a little nervous, to say the least,” admits Haley. “I thought we were tired and the girls would start getting on each other. But Toni Brown, Maddie and Shannon kept it together.”
The teams traded buckets the entire fourth quarter. Every time South Park scored, the Lady Titans would charge back up court and find open looks to the basket. Four different Lady Titans scored during the final quarter, with the biggest basket of the game coming with one minute left. As four players battled for a rebound, sophomore Elisabeth Desmarais got the jump on her opponents to tip the ball out to Stichter. Stichter took the ball straight to the hole to score to give the Lady Titans a four-point cushion.
The Burros kept hammering, winning the battle on the boards in the final minute but couldn’t score when needed, and the Lady Titans held on for the 50-46 win.
Costello led the team with 14 points, Brown scored 12, Dumas scored 11, and Stichter finished with nine points.
“That was the first game, I thought, that we put together four quarters,” says Haley. “I was really happy with the way they played. Those are the games where they learn the most and understand how to do it and make them stronger in the future.”
The win inspired the Lady Titans as they headed to La Veta looking to pull off a league-shattering upset.
“The older girls were definitely thinking we could take this momentum in there and beat them,” says Haley.
And after the first quarter, things were looking good as Crested Butte held La Veta in check to hold them within striking distance.
But Crested Butte suffered a disastrous second quarter as La Veta outscored the Lady Titans 14-2 to take a 28-10 lead into the locker room.
The Lady Titans played even with La Veta in the second half but could not produce points on offense to come back, eventually falling 42-24.
“It was super frustrating because that one quarter was all the difference in the world,” says Haley. “They did what I asked them to in the second half. I was super proud of their second half.”
Stichter led the team with 16 points, while the rest of the team struggled on offense.
“We have to put the ball in the bucket,” says Haley. “So that’s our focus this week, that and rebounding.”
The Lady Titans head to Custer County on Friday, February 10 looking to gain momentum, with the district tournament on the near horizon.
“We can beat them but we have to produce on offense,” says Haley. “It will definitely make a difference in our district seeding if we beat them.”