Free throws seal win over Sargent
by Than Acuff
For the second week in a row, the Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team battled through four quarters before sealing the win in the final minute of play, edging out a 31-28 win over the Sargent Farmers. The win recharged the Titans team after dropping two games on the road the days leading up to the big win.
The week started out rough for Crested Butte as they headed to Telluride on Tuesday, January 24 to take on the feisty Miners. Telluride is hit or miss, just like the Titans, but had been surging as of late and would prove to be a tough match-up for the Titans as they handed the Titans a 44-30 loss.
“We came out flat, not a lot of energy and missed some shots,” says coach Brandin Hamilton. “We made some adjustments to get some scoring but we couldn’t slow them down to make a serious run.”
The Titans returned to the road on Friday, January 27 to face league powerhouse Del Norte. The Del Norte Tigers stand above the rest in the Southern Peaks league and are ranked top 10 in the state in 2A. The hope was that the Titans could shake it up a bit, but the Titans fell behind by 20 points early in the game.
“They came out with a new defense and it took us a whole quarter to figure out how to attack it,” says Hamilton.
Crested Butte battled back to pull within 11 points but Del Norte surged once again in the third quarter to rebuild their 20-point lead and Hamilton pulled the starters midway through the fourth quarter to rest for their next game, as Del Norte closed out the 52-32 win over the Titans.
David Wasinger led the team with nine points, followed by Joseph Cummins with eight.
Bruised and battered following the road trip, the Titans returned to Mt. Olympus on Saturday, January 28 to host the Sargent Farmers. For years the Farmers have dominated the matchup, but Hamilton saw the chance for a change heading into the game Saturday.
“The boys have never beat Sargent so there was that in the back of their minds, but no one was intimidated,” says Hamilton.
From the opening minute of the game it was obvious that defense was the name of the game, as both teams struggled on offense.
The Titans found a seam in the Farmers’ defense midway through the first quarter to build a 6-2 lead as Noah Dumas opened the scoring with a short-jumper off the glass, and then Wasinger went to work driving to the basket on the next two possessions for layups in traffic and then taking a charge on the opposite end of the floor to further stymie the Farmers’ attack.
“That’s been one of our goals all season, develop an inside, post game and that was an opportunity to get that going,” says Hamilton.
But when Wasinger picked up his second foul, Hamilton had to sit him and things started to even out between the two teams. Dumas drove through traffic for one more basket and even with Wasinger off the floor, the Titans team defense proved solid and they held an 8-5 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Sargent opened the second quarter with a quick four points, capitalizing off of offensive rebounds and a Titans turnover. The erratic play of Crested Butte forced Hamilton to call a time-out midway through the quarter to reassemble the troops and keep Sargent from opening up a rally.
Crested Butte returned to the floor with more patience on offense and the two teams traded off trips to the free throw line as the Titans hit six of eight and Jakob Monroe floated in a short jumper, giving the Titans a 16-13 lead at halftime.
“It had the feel of a two-point game with one minute left, so at halftime I prepared them for a grind,” says Hamilton.
And a grind is exactly what ensued. Monroe and Wasinger were tight on Sargent’s top two scorers and continued to hold them in check.
“They shut down Sargent’s main scorers, which was huge,” says Hamilton.
Sargent started to dominate the offensive boards in the third quarter to get additional looks at the Titan hoop. Wasinger followed on a miss for a tip-in to keep the Titans in the mix but a series of Titan turnovers turned into eight Sargent points and a 22-18 Sargent lead before Hamilton called a time-out.
“We lost a little bit of our identity there and were trying to do things that are outside of our scheme,” says Hamilton. “We were lucky to stay close.”
Cooler heads prevailed for the remainder of the quarter and Cummins finally got free to hit a three-pointer to stem the Sargent surge and set up another exciting fourth quarter.
The Titans opened the quarter with a relatively new defense and the switch caused havoc for Sargent.
“We’d been practicing it a lot and getting better at it and I used it sparingly in the third quarter and saw some success,” explains Hamilton.
Both teams knocked down free throws down the stretch but when Wasinger drove through traffic for another two and then drained a six-foot jumper, the Titans were on top 29-28 with 40 seconds left.
Sargent came back down court to look for the winning shot but the attempt missed its mark and Jovany Aguirre pulled down the rebound and was subsequently fouled, sending him to the line for a one-and-one with a one-point lead and 13 seconds left. Aguirre stepped to the line and proceeded to sink both free throws and the Titans defense did the best to hold on for the 31-28 win.
“What a huge moment for him,” says Hamilton. “You could tell when he stepped to the line there was no question those were going in.”
Dumas led the team with 11 points that night, followed by Wasinger, who dropped in 10.
The Titans will host Cotopaxi in Mt. Olympus on Thursday, February 2. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.