“We seem to be peaking at the right time”
by Than Acuff
Make that five in a row. The Crested Butte Titans basketball team won their fifth home game in a row, and another game on the road, this past week and is now sitting in second place of the Southern Peaks league.
The Titans opened their latest two-game stretch in Custer County against the Bobcats on Friday, February 10. Custer County has always been a tough matchup for the Titans but they are a young team this year and in the midst of rebuilding. Nevertheless, Titan teams of the past, even the Titans earlier this season, had a tough time taking control of games they should win. Now, with some wins under their belt and confidence at an all-time high, the Titans opened the game scoring 31 points in the first quarter, including six three-pointers.
“We just pressured them, we trapped, we denied and caused them to panic and scored one of two ways—steal lay-ups and we were red-hot shooting,” says coach Brandin Hamilton.
After jumping out to a 31-7 lead, Hamilton turned to his bench for most of the second quarter mixing in players yet still chugging along as they outscored Custer County 15-4 in the second quarter to take a 46-11 lead into halftime.
Hamilton put his starters back on the floor to start the third quarter but with another game the following day, he rested most of them for the remainder of the game after the first couple of minutes as the team cruised to the 75-41 win. Noah Dumas led all scorers with 18 points, David Wasinger scored 14 and a host of other Titans scored between eight and 10 points.
“When you score 75 points people are just feeding,” says Hamilton.
The team returned home to host the South Park Burros on Saturday, February 11. The Burros have a big lineup with the smallest starter as big as the Titan’s biggest player. The Titans opened the game fired up, cutting to the hoop for buckets and diving for loose balls to set up additional points taking a 9-4 lead.
The Burros then regrouped to set up and work the ball to their big guys inside. The effort set them up for a couple of buckets but the Titans responded, rather David Wasinger responded, as he got the ball on the wing and dropped his defender to drive to the basket for an easy lay up. South Park remained methodical though and by the time the first quarter was done, the two teams were locked in an 11-11 tie.
“We had little lapses on defense that allowed them to score and on our end we weren’t efficient on offense, allowing them to hang around with our mistakes,” says Hamilton.
Hamilton then put in two different half court traps to handcuff the Burros, and Wasinger and Dumas took over the game on offense in the second quarter as the Titans outscored South Park 18-4 with all of the points coming from the two seniors.
“The half-court trap defense really seemed to fluster them and David was a handful and Noah was on fire,” says Hamilton. “Holding them to four points was the game right there.”
South Park went on a run in the third quarter as Hamilton started getting some bench players time in preparation for the upcoming post season. In addition, the team as a whole started to fall into bad habits again. Joseph Cummins and Tommy Linehan provided some relief early in the quarter as each of them hit three-pointers while South Park was clawing its way back into the game.
“Teams have been keying on Joseph but if you leave him open, he knocks them down,” says Hamilton.
South Park had closed to within nine points before Dumas drained another three pointer at the buzzer to put a nice finish to a rough quarter for the Titans.
Hamilton then turned back to his starting five at the start of the fourth quarter and they delivered, with Cummins running the show and Dumas and Wasinger attacking from outside and in. The Titans opened the final quarter with a 14-4 to rebuild their 20-point lead and then cruised through the final minutes to a 61-41 win.
The team finishes the regular season this weekend with their biggest two-game test of the season as they head to Sargent on Friday, February 17 and then will host Del Norte on Saturday, February 18.
“We seem to be peaking at the right time,” says Hamilton. “We just happen to be playing the number one and number two teams in the district, so we’ll see.”
No matter how the weekend shakes out, the Titans should be hosting the first round of the district tournament in Mt. Olympus on Tuesday, February 21.