Head into post season the eighth seed
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titan girls basketball team closed out the 2016 regular season falling to Cotopaxi and Sanford last weekend and will enter the post-season this week as the number eight seed.
They were surging last week coming off their first and only win of the season and then following that up with a gutsy effort against the South Park Burros, but they let a second win get away from them when they lost to the Cotopaxi Pirates on Tuesday, February 16.
With players missing practices and the game due to the February break and injuries, the Titans just could not find their groove on the court. There were some glimmers, but overall the Titans just seemed out of sync.
“Our rotation is really small to begin with so when we’re missing players, we’re unable to run stuff,” says coach Mike Moran.
Things started off well as Crested Butte broke Cotopaxi’s initial press for a lay-up by Sydney Petersen, but when the Titans tried to press, the Pirates returned the favor. Tara Mortell crashed the offensive boards for Crested Butte and Lily Talbot set the tone with her hustle, but the Titans’ play remained erratic at best.
Both teams struggled through the first quarter as Cotopaxi managed a slim 6-2 lead and then added a couple of free throws to open the second quarter. When the Titans did get set up in their half-court offense, they started getting decent looks but shots missed their marks on several occasions.
“We couldn’t get anything to fall and that’s been a big problem all season,” says Moran.
Petersen did drain a three-pointer and when Mortell sank a 12-foot jump shot and Petersen knocked down two free throws, the Titans appeared to finally be on track.
But inconsistent play was the name of the game in the second half as well. On one trip up the court they would execute their offense, setting up Mortell for an easy lay-up off a cut back door. The next three trips up the court would then result in turnovers and Cotopaxi built a 23-16 lead by the close of the third quarter.
The hope was that the Titans would finally snap out of their funk and pull off a late game rally to eek out the win but they never managed to shake it off.
The Titans scored a basket here and a basket there but they couldn’t shut down Cotopaxi completely, as the Pirates managed to maintain their lead and seal the 31-24 win. Petersen led the team with 12 points
“I felt we should have won that game but we were scrambling the whole night,” says Moran.
It would take a Xenean effort by the Titans to match wits with the Sanford Indians on Saturday, February 20. The Indians are one of the top teams in the Southern Peaks league and the February break continued to limit workouts for the Titans, eliminating any momentum they built prior to the break.
“We were clicking on all cylinders against South Park before the break but that week off destroyed any momentum we had,” says Moran.
Again, the Titans ran their offense smoothly to open the game and got a couple of open looks but the buckets weren’t falling. Meanwhile, Sanford found success on the offensive end of things. The Titans’ man-to-man defense and their 2-3 zone were somewhat effective but without any offense, defense eventually tires out.
“They were just beating us up and down the court,” says Moran. “We were completely out of sync.”
The Titans ended up losing 50-16 when all was said and done and are going into the district tournament the number eight seed out of eight teams. As a result they open the post-season against the Del Norte Tigers, one of the top teams in the state in 2A. The district tournament continues on Thursday, February 25 and Moran is looking for a positive end to the season.
“Right now we’re just trying to regroup,” says Moran. “I still think our best game is yet to come. It’s a tough task but anything can happen—we just gotta try to finish on a good note.”