Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Titan girls hoops open season in South Park, show improvement

“The big light bulb went on”

by Than Acuff

After a rough start in some preseason scrimmages two weeks ago, the Titan girls’ basketball team showed massive improvement in their season opening tournament last weekend in South Park.

It’s no secret that it will be another rough season for the Titans. Last year they managed just one win all year, lost some key inside players to graduation and remain young and small heading into the 2015-2016 season.

Still, heads remain high and the girls are committed to making strides this year and gaining the respect of their opponents and fans.

They got their first test of the season in South Park and while wins continue to elude them, the difference between the scrimmages and the games was remarkable.

“We played really good team basketball,” says coach Mike Moran.

Moran continues to keep things simple for his young team and made sure the Titans focused on the basics heading into the tournament.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect so I told them to focus in on the things we talk about each and every day,” explains Moran. “Fundamentals, playing good D and putting the ball in the bucket.”

That focus eluded the Titans in the opening half of their first game against Gilpin County. Gilpin County jumped all over the Titans in the first half with high-paced basketball, aggressive play and utilizing their big girl inside, building an initial 17-4 lead.

“They came out of the gate and put it to us,” says Moran. “We weren’t ready.”

The Titans settled down on defense and offense to reel the game in during the second half and play a much more even game but continued to struggle scoring, eventually falling 32-12.

“They were much more aggressive and physical and I was frustrated that we weren’t ready to play,” says Moran.

After a team dinner and meeting that night and some scouting of their next opponent, the Titans showed up Saturday to face Cripple Creek more prepared.

Cripple Creek has two solid guards and the Titans focused on shutting them down with a new man-to-man defense. While they closed off clean looks to the hoop for Cripple Creek, fouls plagued the Titans and Cripple Creek did most of their damage from the free throw line. The Titans then suffered a huge blow as starting sophomore point guard Sydney Petersen was forced to leave the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

The ball was then handed to freshman Sienna Truex, and Truex and the team proceeded to rally in the face of adversity. With senior Erika Bremer and juniors Kiara Cottrell and Sarah Johnson working hard inside, the Titans battled back into the game, erasing a seven-point deficit to pull within one.

The Titans dominated the fourth quarter and put themselves in a position to win the game on several occasions, but shots missed their mark and the Titans came up short, losing 23-22.

“The fourth quarter was all us,” says Moran. “We pressed, stole the ball and took complete control of the game. We just couldn’t score.”

While Moran was admittedly frustrated with losing the game, he saw a side of his team that he wasn’t sure was there.

“The kids are really picking it up and playing much better,” says Moran. “We took a big step forward and the kids could feel it. The big light bulb went on.”

The Titans return to fundamentals for their workouts this week with some continued emphasis on handling pressure and scoring. They will have their hands full this Friday when they hit the road to take on state powerhouse Ridgway.

“We just gotta keep working on things,” says Moran. “We have some tough teams ahead of us. Ridgway is the real deal.”

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