Boys basketball struggles continue on hard court

Cold shooting mars solid effort against league powerhouse

by Than Acuff

Things were clicking for the Crested Butte Titans basketball team. It all started with a new line up for the second half of a game. They carried that energy and line up into a showdown with the Sargent Framers and nearly pulled off a huge upset and had the Titans chomping at the bit to take on Del Norte on Tuesday, January 29.

“I’d say they knew they were playing good basketball and were feeling pretty confident for sure,” says coach Brandin Hamilton.

The two teams went toe-to-toe in the first quarter as Tommy Linehan dropped a 12-footer to open the scoring. Del Norte responded scoring on their next two possessions but Erik Wasinger drained a three pointer and Murphy Smith battled inside for two more for a 7-5 Titans lead.

Every time Del Norte looked to gain some ground, Crested Butte would stem the tide. Nico Marchitelli closed the first quarter scoring inside and drawing the foul. He missed the free throw but got his own rebound and scored to put the Titans up 11-9.

“The game was going as planned for sure,” says Hamilton.

Things started to unravel for the Titans midway through the second quarter. While Ty Sherman opened the quarter with a block and Alexander Dumas grabbed a rebound to deny Del Norte any second looks, Crested Butte struggled on offense as shots started missing their mark. Del Norte soon found their scoring touch and built a 19-12 lead before Wasinger hit another three-pointer. Ethan Bacani drove the lane to put up two more points but Del Norte scored four more in the process to take a 23-17 lead into halftime.

“That’s sort of been our Achilles heel, finishing,” says Hamilton. “We get decent looks and the shots don’t drop and it gets in their psyche. I just tried to reset them at halftime, figured we got our bad quarter out of our system.”

The break did nothing to help the Titans find their shot as cold shooting continued to plague them in the third quarter. As their shooting woes continued, their play became more panicked and Hamilton had to call a timeout to help reel his team back in.

“We started scrambling and defensively lost a little focus,” says Hamilton.

Things got a little better for the Titans on offense as Marchitelli, Juneau Barr and Jovany Aguirre all scored but Del Norte responded at the other end of the court to build a 36-23 lead by the end of the third quarter.

“I thought for the first three minutes we looked good,” says Hamilton. “But it’s tough to keep your energy up when you don’t see the ball go in. Especially against a good team.”

The fourth quarter was just a free throw shooting spree as the two teams shot a total of 19 free throws. Wasinger and Aguirre combined to hit seven of eight free throws with Grayson White tacking on another free throw but Del Norte hit nine of 10 adding in a basket here and there to roll to the 52-33 win.

The Titans then hit the road on Saturday, February 2 to face the Sanford Indians and suffered another tough game.

“Right off the bat we struggled to score,” says Hamilton. “They made an adjustment and it took us out of our comfort zone.”

Fortunately, the Titans defense did their job as they held Sanford in check to keep the game within reach at halftime.

“We only gave up 18 points in the first half, that’s really solid,” says Hamilton.

But the Titans were still struggling on offense, and with two players out of the game, Crested Butte didn’t have enough to make a run at the Indians losing 47-20.

Crested Butte hits the road this Friday, February 8 to face Custer County and then return home to Mt. Olympus on Saturday, February 9 to host Center. Games start at 1 p.m.

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