“That kind of balance is what we need the second half of the season”
By Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team continues to gain momentum as they’ve spent the past two weeks adjusting to injuries. And while everything seemed to be clicking in one game, things didn’t go as smoothly during the second game, and one thing remains essential to Crested Butte turning a corner: limiting turnovers.
They came back from the holiday break and hit the floor continuing to work on a new offense and increasing reps to try to limit turnovers and improve on rebounding.
“They were pretty focused all week and the guys were more comfortable in their roles. It was a good week of practice,” says coach Brandin Hamilton.
The solid week of workouts led to a solid showing against the Cripple Creek Pioneers on Friday, January 12, though it didn’t come easily. While Hamilton and the team were aware of Cripple Creek’s two-guard attack, they were taken back a bit, closing out the first quarter out-gunning the Pioneers 21-18.
“Everybody, including myself, underestimated their two guards,” admits Hamilton. “We were in a zone and they were just shooting over our zone. We’re lucky that we were hitting shots.”
In fact, Hamilton touts his team’s execution of their new offense in the first quarter as the saving grace as the Titans got a number of looks from a variety of players, including two three-pointers from Jovany Aguirre, to keep pace with Cripple Creek.
“Some of it had to do with our new offense and that we’re more comfortable with it,” says Hamilton. “The scoring was spread out.”
The second quarter followed suit, though the scoring frenzy tapered off but the Titans struggled in the third quarter to allow Cripple Creek to keep the game close.
“We came out flat again,” says Hamilton. “I don’t think we’ve won a third quarter all season. We were just impatient and were lucky they didn’t get anything going. We were struggling and just had to power through it.”
The game remained close until late in the fourth quarter. With the Titans up by two and Cripple Creek in a zone defense, Hamilton went to a stall offense to eat up the clock. Cripple Creek eventually caught on and fouled Ty Sherman to stop the clock. Sherman stepped to the line and knocked both free throws down.
“That was big,” says Hamilton.
The Pioneers were left to keep fouling and the Titans sealed the 49-42 win from the free-throw line.
Joseph Cummins led the team with 17 points, Aguirre scored 13, Josh Merck and Sherman each finished with six points and Triston Davis scored five points.
“It was a great fourth quarter,” says Hamilton. “That kind of balance is what we need the second half of the season.”
That balance eluded the Titans, though, as they headed to South Park the next day, falling 55-44. A slow first quarter plagued the Titans as they suffered five quick turnovers to go down 8-0 in the opening minutes. They never quite recovered through the rest of the game, as South Park did just enough to hold the lead all game.
“We were behind the entire game and just fighting back from that,” says Hamilton. “We just made too many mistakes.”
Aguirre led the Titans with 22 points, Cummins finished with 15 and Ethan Bacani scored a quick five points but the rest of the Titans were relatively silent on offense.
The Titans return to the road on Saturday, January 20 when they face the Center Vikings.