Focus continues on fundamentals
If you’re focused on final scores, wins, losses and other numerical ways to gauge talent, then it’s going to be a long season for the Crested Butte Lady Titans basketball team. Fact is, the team is young and inexperienced and, for one reason or another, sits in the middle of a number of 2A girls basketball powerhouse programs. Their league, the Southern Peaks, is often considered one of the top 2A leagues in the state, sending as many as three teams annually to the state tournament.
So where does that leave this young lady Titans team? Well, for the most part, on the wrong end of a lopsided score. But, and there’s always a but, there is hope.
Starting with their coach, Mike Moran. Moran comes from a long and successful high school coaching career in Arizona and joined the Crested Butte program last year.
Then there’s the team. Did I say they were young and inexperienced? They are, but that only bodes well for the future, when paired with an experienced coach.
“It’s tough,” says Moran, “but I’m enjoying it and I enjoy working with a great group of kids.”
Moran also points out something that was blatantly evident in their first home game of the season when they lost to the Ridgway Demons 61-15. The team has heart and despite the game getting away from them, they played hard from the tip-off until the final buzzer.
“Effort, attitude, commitment and great leadership are the positive things we have going,” says Moran.
Freshman Sydney Petersen led the team in scoring against Ridgway with seven points, and Ariel Kilpatrick had her hands full inside against two very strong post players who combined for 38 of Ridgway’s 61 points.
But Moran isn’t all rainbows and unicorns when assessing his team’s performance Friday night.
“We had some fundamental errors on our match-up zone defense,” says Moran. “We were not getting to our assignments.”
The Lady Titans kept plugging away as Ridgway continued to score throughout the game. A seminal moment for Crested Butte came during the third quarter. Despite being down 39-6, Crested Butte continued to push the pace and themselves. Petersen put up four points and Ericka Bremer drained a 12-footer off the glass and Petersen added in a three-pointer in the fourth quarter as well.
“It was a stepping stone. We saw parts of the game coming together,” says Moran.
Crested Butte then headed to Nucla on Saturday, December 13 to face an almost identical team and lost by an identical score, 61-15.
The Titans put together a better effort defensively through the first quarter against Nucla and had their opponent frustrated at times.
“They came ready to play and weren’t discouraged from the loss the day before,” says Moran. “Our defense was much improved.”
But foul trouble and fatigue eventually took their toll on the Titans as Nucla continued to work the ball into the post and pressure the young Titans team into turnovers.
“Eventually they wore us down but I was encouraged by our defensive effort,” says Moran. “We’re young and still can’t handle the pressure.”
The Titans will head to Telluride on Friday, December 19 and Moran is looking to see more small steps toward a brighter future.
“It’ll be another tough game but I think we’ve got a real shot to play well down there,” says Moran.
After that, Moran hopes to use the holiday break to get his players as much work on the basics as possible.
“We need a lot of skill development but there’s some bright spots coming up,” says Moran. “We’re just going to keep working at it.”