“It’s a more fun and relaxed atmosphere and the girls are gaining a little more than in past years”
by Than Acuff
While the Crested Butte Titans girls basketball team opted for a JV schedule for the 2019-2020 season, that doesn’t mean they are missing out on all varsity competition and match up well against some of the smaller programs.
Take for instance this past weekend when the Titans hosted the Creede Miners varsity on Saturday, January 11 and pulled away over the course of the game to finish with a 54-38 win.
Crested Butte looked a bit off-kilter in the opening minutes of the game as they struggled to execute their offense and gain any rhythm with the ball. After giving up the ball on their third inbounds attempt in the first two minutes and the team not clicking at either end of the court, coach Vaden Holmes called an early timeout to check in on her team.
“We were just chaotic from the start and calling the timeout was to just calm them down,” says Holmes. “I just told them, ‘Let’s do our jobs.’”
Alex Downey knocked down her next shot following the timeout and Blakely Reynolds attacked the basket repeatedly to drain two jumpers and a couple of free throws to help the Titans build a 10-4 lead. Naomi Bilow added in a bucket and Reynolds hit a three-pointer toward the end of the first quarter and Crested Butte was sitting on a tenuous eight-point lead.
Reynolds and Sophia Truex combined to score six more points for the Titans but the Miners connected for a 6-0 run toward the end of the half to cut Crested Butte’s lead down to six points by halftime.
“We got back into the chaos and were making mistakes and turning the ball over on our own and let them close the gap,” says Holmes.
Truex opened the second half hitting an 11-foot jumper, the Titans pushed the ball inside for two more points and Reynolds and Downey knocked down some shots to build an 11-point lead. Creede answered back but Truex finished off a three-point play at the end of the quarter to put the Titans up 36-26.
“Our shots started dropping more and we were much smoother on offense,” says Holmes.
Holmes then started shuffling more players into the game and the Titans kept rolling. Reynolds continued to pour it on, Lhotse Wychoff and India Nornes both found seams to the hoop and Crested Butte kept outpacing Creede up and down the court to finish them off 54-38.
Reynolds finished the game with 27 points, followed by Truex with 14 and every Titan except for one scored in the game.
“Part of our success was having the point cushion in the fourth quarter,” says Holmes. “It allowed the girls to relax a little more and just play.”
Now almost midway through the season, Holmes believes the move to a JV-focused schedule is paying off for her and the team.
“The shift has allowed me to slow down things in practice and continue to go over fundamentals rather than preparing for specific games,” explains Holmes. “That’s helped keep plays simple and allowed them to just play. It’s a more fun and relaxed atmosphere and the girls are gaining a little more than in past years.”
The Titans return to JV play when they face the Del Norte JV on Friday, January 17 and the Sanford JV on Saturday, January 18. Both opponents are perennial powerhouses so Holmes feels the JV match-ups should be very tough.
“These games will be a bigger test to our progress,” says Holmes.