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Boys’ basketball takes one of three at opening tournament

“We showed a lot of resolve and came back fighting”

by Than Acuff

The Crested Butte Titan boy’s basketball team opened their season at the Lake County Invitational and came away with a win and some insight into what they’ve got going on. While their defense needs work and fitness continues to be a bit of an issue, one thing is for sure: the boys can shoot with several players contributing on offense and six Titans showing they can hit shots from beyond the three-point line.

The Titans had a rough lead-up to the tournament with Thanksgiving leaving the team depleted for workouts over the break. As a result, the team was forced to “cram” for four days prior to the tournament.

photos by Aryha McNamee of the Herald Democrat
photos by Aryha McNamee of the Herald Democrat

“We were scrambling to get ready to play games and it kind of showed,” says coach Brandin Hamilton. “Our offense was out of sync and we were exposed from a lack of defensive reps in practice.”

The Titans opened the tournament Friday night against host team Lake County. The match-up proved fortuitous for the Titans as Lake County opened with a tight zone defense, and while it shut down any inside game for Crested Butte, they managed to open things up from the perimeter.

“I’ve got a lot of shooters so that match-up worked for us,” says Hamilton.

The Titans built a 27-19 lead by halftime but Hamilton still wanted more out of his team.

“We were beating them but we hadn’t blown it open yet and I felt like we could take over the game,” says Hamilton. “We made an adjustment at halftime and re-emphasized our offensive rebounding strategy.”

The adjustment made all the difference as the Titans took over the game for good in the second half. Not only did the Titans continue to light it up from the perimeter; they were getting additional shots when they missed and were able to finish off the game, winning 64-39. In the end, six Titans scored from three-point range as they shot 10-13 from beyond the arc.

“We made it really difficult for Lake County,” says Hamilton. “You can take one shooter away but you can’t take six away.”

David Wasinger led the team with 20 points, followed by Noah Dumas with 11 and a host of others joining in with three to five points.

The Titans had a rough turnover though, as the game finished late and the team had to get up early the next morning for an 8 a.m. game against Gilpin County.

Both teams opened slowly and while Gilpin County looked to take away the perimeter from Crested Butte, the Titans then turned inside to John Theis. The issue for the Titans came on defense. While Crested Butte’s offense was working, Gilpin County shredded the Titans defense and they were down six points at halftime.

“We had a decent first half but we just couldn’t stop them at all,” says Hamilton.

The game got away from the Titans in the third quarter as they came out flat, while Gilpin County kept chugging along. Gilpin County threw a variety of defenses at the Titans, sending Crested Butte’s offense into a bit of a tailspin, and outscoring the Titans 12-3 in the third quarter.

“We were thinking more than playing,” says Hamilton. “We didn’t do a good job of handling what they threw at us.”

The Titans recovered to put together a great fourth quarter but the damage was done, as Crested Butte lost 53-42. Theis led the Titans with 13 points, followed by Ryan McCudden with nine.

Crested Butte finished the weekend with a gutsy effort against the top team in the tournament, Monte Vista. After a troublesome start to the game falling behind 18-7, the Titans rebounded to keep Monte Vista in check. They cut Monte Vista’s lead down to five points in the fourth quarter but the final push eluded them and Crested Butte fell 65-57.

McCudden lit Monte Vista up for 16 points including four three-pointers. Theis hit double digits again with 14 points and Dumas added in 11.

“We showed a lot of resolve and came back fighting,” says Hamilton. “We just gave them too many second chances. We can’t give up that many points.”

The Titans have a huge challenge ahead of them this week as they head to Ridgway on Friday to face the Demons, one of the top 2A programs in the state, with a Colorado Hall of Fame coach at the helm.

“We have to respect them and do what we can to corral them,” says Hamilton.

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