Home game this Friday
by Than Acuff
After not really showing up to their road game against Del Norte on Friday, January 11, the Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team brought everything they had to their home court on Saturday to test the limits of Sanford before falling 41-30.
Del Norte poses a significant threat, with two players who combine to average 37 points per game. With that in mind, coach Brandin Hamilton had a plan in place to handcuff their top scorers in an effort to keep the game within reach as much as possible.
“I felt like we had a shot but road games are always tough,” says Hamilton. “We wanted to focus on stopping their two guys because it looked like they didn’t have much else.”
The Titans did execute a part of their game plan as they held Del Norte’s leading scorer to three points. The difference came in the pace and physicality of Del Norte and the scoring prowess of their second and third top scorers.
“We’re a pretty physical team but their physical play caught us off guard and we struggled to adjust to the style of game it was,” says Hamilton. “We couldn’t slow them down.”
Del Norte took an early lead and never looked back as they eventually finished the Titans off 70-41. Jovany Aguirre and Ty Sherman led the Titans’ scoring.
While the loss was tough and Del Norte’s physical play and pace draining, the Titans recovered in time to return to the floor Saturday, January 12 to host the all-powerful Sanford Indians. While their team is somewhat depleted this season, that is only relative to their past three years as they are coming off a run of 73 wins in a row and three state titles.
Crested Butte came out determined to fluster the Indians though, and did just that in the first quarter with a quality press and tight defense that frustrated Sanford. Ethan Bacani stole an inbounds pass and flipped the ball to Nico Marchitelli for a quick two, Ty Sherman grabbed an offensive board and scored, and a couple of free throws had the Titans up 8-6 at the end of the first quarter and Sanford noticeably rattled.
“We came out with a little bit of fire,” says Hamilton.
But Sanford has built such a strong program and is no stranger to pressure as they took the game back in the second quarter. A series of three pointers and better composure with the ball allowed Sanford to outscore the Titans 17-1 in the second quarter and build a 22-9 lead by halftime. It didn’t help that the Titans struggled from the free throw line as well, shooting just five of 16 from the stripe.
Down but not out, the Titans returned to their defensive ways with additional power on the boards as both Murphy Smith and Marchitelli won numerous battles in the paint. The Titans held Sanford to just five points in the third quarter and buckets from Eric Wasinger, Alexander Dumas and Tommy Linehan, plus a handful of free throws had the Titans back to within eight points heading into the fourth quarter.
Sanford took the game back with an 8-2 run to open the fourth quarter, tacked on a couple more three-pointers and the Titans’ struggles to score continued as Sanford pulled away to seal the 41-30 win. Aguirre led the Titans in scoring again, with Marchitelli the chairman of the boards.
“We had them on the run—we just couldn’t close the gap,” says Hamilton. “We need to keep working so we win a game like that. In terms of establishing a team scoring identity, we still struggle with that.”
The Titans will host South Park on Friday, January 18 at 7 p.m. in mighty Mt. Olympus and the Titan Booster Club is hosting Family Fun Night, so come out to support the Titans as they look to get back on the winning track. They’ll hit the road on Saturday to take on Center.
“We learned a lot about ourselves this past weekend,” says Hamilton. “We’ll see how this weekend goes.”