Fall shy of comeback win
by Than Acuff
Each and every year the Center Vikings are one of those opponents that both pose a threat and offer an opportunity for the Titans boys basketball team.
On one hand they are streaky and explosive and can disrupt the pace and tone of the Titans game. On the other, due to their streaky style, they also offer a chance for the Titans to set the tone and pace of the game and come out on top.
“Anytime you play Center you know they’re going to throw something at you,” says Titans coach Brandin Hamilton. “You just have to stay a half step ahead of them.”
On Saturday, January 20, the Titans fell victim to Center’s style early but then recovered to climb back into the game before missing out on a last second chance to tie the game and fall 40-37.
The first half played out in the Vikings favor as the Titans struggled to find any sense of rhythm on the floor, turning the ball over and falling behind 11-5 after one quarter of play.
Things settled slightly for the Titans in the second quarter, yet they still struggled and headed into the locker room at halftime down 19-9.
“It was a tough start,” says senior captain Joseph Cummins. “We came out flat, turned the ball over a lot and weren’t ready to be aggressive.”
Things could have gone from bad to worse for the Titans, as they have struggled all season long in the third quarter. Fortunately, the Titans put together one of their best third quarters of the season to climb back into the game. Paced by a press and the work of Cummins and Jovany Aguirre as well as a new attitude on offense, the Titans outscored Center 13-8 in the third quarter.
“We made adjustments and, lo and behold, they worked,” says Hamilton. “It totally turned the tables.”
“We finally came out strong in the third quarter,” adds Cummins. “They extended their zone so we started to drive to the middle more and that opened things up. I think our press stalled their offense and got us in the mentality of playing more aggressively.”
Crested Butte carried that momentum into the fourth quarter as well, firing off 15 more points to pull within three of the Vikings with time running out. The Vikings managed to stay with the Titans though, as foul trouble for the Titans had Center stepping to the line often throughout the quarter.
“Seven of their 13 points came from the line,” says Hamilton. “Hats off to them for knocking down free throws. We put ourselves in that position getting behind on the road.”
The Titans gained possession for one final shot and set up the play but the series of passes never made it to the final destination of Cummins in the corner and time ran out on Crested Butte.
Cummins led the team with 17 points, followed by Aguirre with 10, with the rebounding shared among all players.
The Titans are at home this weekend as they host fifth-ranked Del Norte Tigers for Family Night in Mt. Olympus on Friday, January 26. The JV boys game starts at 4 p.m. with the boys varsity tipping off at 7 p.m. The Titans then hit the road on Saturday to play the Sargent Farmers.