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Boys edge out Cotopaxi, fall to Sanford

“We did what we were supposed to do to win that game”

by Than Acuff

The rollercoaster season for the Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team continues with a majority of the year spent in a free-fall.

Things were looking good, then injuries hit. Then things were looking up again battling against Sargent, in Sargent, before losing at the buzzer. Despite the loss, they appeared to be back on track with quality point production coming from both Joseph Cummins and Jovany Aguirre, Triston Davis gaining confidence at both ends of the court and Josh Merck, Murphy Smith and Ty Sherman all taking bigger strides toward their inside game capabilities.

They carried that momentum into their game against the Cotopaxi Pirates on Thursday, February 1. The Pirates are one of the top 1A teams with a record of 10-3 and posed a very real threat to the Titans with a six-foot-six player, a big guy underneath (six-foot-two, 225 pounds) and a penchant for throwing up three-pointers.

“Basically, we wanted to speed the game up, make it a full court game and not let them get set up,” says coach Brandin Hamilton. “We pressed the whole game and tried to make it feel frantic for them.”

The two teams battled back and forth for all four quarters and as it progressed, things appeared to be working in Crested Butte’s favor. For one, Cotopaxi’s six-foot-six player fell into foul trouble early and while he managed to avoid his fifth foul, playing with four fouls altered his game. Second, the constant pressure by the Titans did keep Cotopaxi off balance and while it didn’t generate any scoring runs to put the game away, it was enough to win.

“We caused just enough turnovers to keep them off-guard,” says Hamilton.

Third, unsettled play resulted in unsettled shooting by Cotopaxi as their perimeter shooters struggled to find their groove.

And finally, the work of the Titans’ forwards made all the difference in the world. Merck, Smith and Dante Marchitelli spent the better part of the game dealing with the size advantage of Cotopaxi’s inside game and won the battle in the end as the Titans finished off the Pirates 39-34.

“Josh had a great game; he finished everything around the rim,” says Hamilton. “Murphy, Dante, all the forwards played great. They really stepped up.”

Jovany Aguirre finished the game leading the Titans with 13 points, followed by Merck with 12 and Joseph Cummins dropping in nine.

“It was a good win,” says Hamilton. “We did what we were supposed to do to win that game.”

Unfortunately, the bliss of a hard-fought win was abruptly interrupted 48 hours later when the Titans hosted the Sanford Indians on Saturday, February 3. Led by a point guard who dictated the game both on offense and defense, despite only scoring four points, tough team defense and hot shooting, the Indians ran away from Crested Butte early to hand the Titans a sound 68-18 defeat.

“We were beat at every position,” says Hamilton. “Hats off to Sanford. They were hot, jumped on our mistakes early and we couldn’t establish anything. They had us scouted perfectly—everything we did, they knew.”

The Titans remain at home this Friday, February 9 as they host the Custer County Bobcats. The Bobcats are a lot like Cotopaxi so Hamilton hopes to do the same thing again.

“If they play well, they can hurt us,” says Hamilton. “So our game plan will be similar. Try to run and not let them get set up.”

Tip off for the boys varsity will be at 7 p.m.

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