Trade punches with San Juan mountain towns
The Crested Butte Titans boy’s basketball team will ride a fine line between greatness and mediocrity all season long. While the talent is either there already or soon to emerge, they must remain healthy and focused if they are going to make a statement in the Southern Peaks league this season.
“We can play ball but we have no room for error,” says coach Brandin Hamilton.
This past weekend was a glaring example of that fine line as they battled to an exceptional 60-50 win over the Ridgway Demons on Friday, only to fall 79-31 to the Ouray Trojans the following day.
The Titans gave the hometown fans a treat on Friday night in mighty Mt. Olympus opening the game against the Demons with some of the most complete basketball to date on the offensive end of things. Unfortunately, their defense was a bit lacking.
Five different Titans scored in the first quarter, with Quinn Winter and John Theis doing the damage inside, David Wasinger driving the lane from the outside and Jakob Monroe and Joe Hayes providing key points. The trouble came at the other end of the court as the Demons had the hot hand from three-point range and the two teams finished the first quarter separated by two points.
“We tried a 2-3 zone but we had some holes,” says Hamilton. “We still don’t know how to get it done on the outside.”
Hamilton adjusted into a man-to-man defense, Winter knocked down two quick buckets inside and Ryan McCudden drained a three-pointer to help pace the Titans to a 31-23 lead at halftime.
Chaos ensued in the third quarter as both teams suffered a flurry of turnovers and players were hurling themselves after the ball in an effort to recover defensively and create shots on offense. The eight minutes straight of broken-play basketball played out well for the Demons as they chipped away at the Titans’ lead, holding Crested Butte to seven points and taking a 39-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed as Hamilton reminded the team of their strengths at the break and Crested Butte opened the fourth quarter with a 13-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Quinn Farnell.
Ridgway brought the chaos one last time midway through the fourth quarter, disrupting the Titans rhythm but Wasinger came up with two big buckets in the final two minutes and the Demons proved drained in the final stretch as the Titans finished them off for the 60-50 win.
Winter led the team with 30 points, followed by Wasinger who scored 14.
“In other games we’ve showed glimpses of what we can do and in this game we played with a purpose,” says Hamilton. “We need three things to happen, Quinn inside, Joe and David providing dribble penetration and quality shots from the other guys and that’s what they did.”
The high of the win soon dissipated the following day as the Titans headed to Ouray to face the Trojans. The Trojans spent their preseason non-league games lighting up their opponents scoring 113 points against one unfortunate foe and carried that explosive offense into the game against Crested Butte.
The Trojans opened with a diamond press to fluster the Titans early and double-teamed Winter inside, shutting him down. Then, midway through the first quarter the Titans lost Wasinger to illness and Hayes to injury, leaving a depleted Titans team to try to handle the Trojans.
Ouray capitalized on the situation building a 46-11 lead by halftime, eventually beating Crested Butte 79-31.
Noah Dumas led the Titans with 12 points and John Theis scored eight on the evening.
The Titans return to the San Juan Mountains this Friday when they head to Telluride on December 18 for their last game before an extended holiday break.