Enter league play this week
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team wrapped up their series on non-league games to open the season last weekend with a come from behind win over Ridgway on Friday, January 10 and an easy cruise past Creede the next day to improve to 6-1 on the season with league play opening this weekend at home against Del Norte on Friday, January 17.
The Ridgway game was another test of the Titans’ mettle as they finished the first quarter down 16-10 and then fell further behind in the opening minutes of the second quarter down 22-10 when coach Brandin Hamilton called a timeout.
“We were just a little flat and they were playing to their strengths and getting the ball to their big guys inside and rolling,” says Hamilton. “During the timeout we talked about getting back to being aggressive on offense, helping out on defense and getting back to doing what we do well.”
The Titans did just that and then some as they followed the timeout with a 14-0 run to finish the first half up 24-22.
“The momentum shifted and we started rolling and Ridgway had to adjust to us,” says Hamilton.
The third quarter turned into a battle as both teams traded off taking the lead, finishing with the Titans up 33-31 heading into the fourth quarter. Ridgway opened the fourth with a small run to pull ahead by three points until Ethan Bacani drained a deep three-pointer to tie the game. The two teams continued to trade off buckets until the Titans defense stymied Ridgway to pull ahead by three with a minute left.
Ridgway resorted to fouling to stop the clock but the Titans hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the 47-39 win. Bacani led the Titans with 15 points, Carlos Franco scored 10, Erik Wasinger dropped in seven points and led the team in rebounding and five different players hit from behind the three-point arc.
“It was just a matter of us being tenacious on both sides of the ball,” says Hamilton. “It’s an aggressive style of play that can cause foul trouble. But, if we can figure that out, then we will be that much stronger.”
The Titans returned home that evening and returned to the floor Saturday, January 11 to host the Creede Miners and had a far less stressful experience as they cruised to a 65-33 win. Creede opened the game with a tight 2-3 zone forcing the Titans to score from outside and Bacani went immediately to work. He opened with a three-pointer and proceeded to rattle off several more throughout the first half including a half court heave at the buzzer to put the Titans up 40-12 at halftime.
Wasinger then took over in the third quarter to score 13 points and keep the Titans rolling as Owen Forsythe closed the quarter with a four-point play hitting a three pointer, getting fouled and sinking the free throw.
“At halftime we talked about what we wanted to work on as a team and that no matter what the score, keep playing with our identity intact,” says Hamilton.
The Titans bench then took over in the fourth quarter and kept the energy high until the final buzzer with Cedar Fessenden, Alan Bacani and Kyle Beck all scoring down the stretch to cap the 65-33 win. Bacani led the team again with 21 points, followed by Wasinger with 17 and Forsythe tacked on eight points.
The Titans now head into league play as they host Del Norte on Friday, January 17 and then head to Sanford on Saturday.
“Right now confidence is high but the team knows there’s still a lot of room to grow,” says Hamilton. “We’re sticking with our philosophy of treating every game the same and that it’s just another opportunity to play basketball. This weekend will be a test of that motto and I’m really excited to see how we respond.”