Fall in first round of districts
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans boys basketball season came to an end last week as they fell to the Sargent Farmers on Tuesday, February 20 in the first round of the district tournament.
It wasn’t the first time the Titans faced Sargent this season; in fact, it was the third. And while Crested Butte lost both of those games, the team was far from discouraged by their district tournament draw.
“Both of the games were tough, close games,” says coach Brandin Hamilton. “We went into this game pretty confident.”
They also learned from the first two experiences as Sargent busted out a new press in the second contest. As a result, Hamilton had the team adjusting their press break to find seams in the Farmers’ pressure.
The game opened somewhat expectedly, and also a bit erratically, for the Titans. While their defense proved sound and they were able to get into and run their offense, they struggled in one key aspect.
“We came out cold shooting but by the end of the quarter we were only down 12-7,” says Hamilton.
The Titans had proved stout in tight games grinding out a couple of late wins at the end of the regular season so, with that in mind, everything looked good as they headed into the second quarter.
“It felt like it was going to be another close game,” explains Hamilton, “which was good. We wanted it to be a grind.”
Unfortunately, the Farmers were prepared to do anything to prevent a close game. As the second quarter opened, the Farmers picked up their half court pressure frustrating the Titans’ offense. Furthermore, the Farmers found their rhythm from the perimeter and the combination provided the gap the Farmers were looking for, building a 31-13 lead by halftime.
“That opened the floodgates in the second quarter,” says Hamilton. “We couldn’t get into our offense and they got hot and went on a quick run that pushed it open. I think I used all but one of my timeouts.”
Crested Butte headed into the locker room, down but not completely out, for a halftime reprieve.
“They were frustrated that the quarter went that way and knew they could do better,” says Hamilton. “We knew we had to change our mentality.”
The Titans emerged from the locker room refreshed and ready and started chipping away at the Farmers’ lead. They soon cut the 18-point lead down to 12 points, with the ball and the offense clicking, primed to turn the game completely around.
“They did a great job and were ready to cut it down to nine points,” says Hamilton. “We definitely had the momentum and if we got their lead down to single digits, they start scoreboard-watching.”
The crushing blow for the Titans came in one fell swoop, though. Down by 12 with the ball, they ran a play to open up a three-pointer. The look was clean and the shot sound but the ball didn’t fall and the Farmers responded by hitting a three-pointer to gain a little more breathing room. Sargent managed to hold its lead through the rest of the fourth quarter to eventually win 53-34. Ty Sherman led the Titans with seven points, followed by a couple of Titans with six points and others adding in a bucket or two.
“They got the lead back to 15 and it just stayed around there the rest of the game,” says Hamilton. “We just dug too big of a hole.”
The season as a whole was a grind for the Titans. Just when they were gaining early-season momentum, they lost two starters to injury. Players were called off the bench into immediate action and after a bumpy road, the team started to figure it out again, only to fall to the more seasoned Sargent team in the post-season.
“In the beginning of the season when I made a substitution, we weren’t even competitive. They needed growth,” explains Hamilton. “Then we had to shift into the fast lane for their growth. They responded and by the end of the season the team was clicking again, giving us a shot.”