Sunday, July 12, 2020

Titans boys hoops returns to their winning ways

Family night Friday, January 31

by Than Acuff

After suffering at the hands of Sanford the weekend before, the Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team got back on track to roll to a 55-27 win over the South Park Burros on Saturday, January 25.

The Burros are a good litmus test for the Titans each and every year. They are a team that the Titans can thrive against but if Crested Butte lets their guard down, the game can end with a disappointing outcome.

Heading into the game, coach Brandin Hamilton had some knowledge of the opponent and was well aware of South Park’s defensive philosophy and their personnel.

“It was tough to say what South Park would bring,” says Hamilton. “I knew they had decent size and two players returning from a good team last year and I knew they played zone defense so we worked hard during the week on attacking zones.”

But, no matter how much a team prepares for a game, it always comes down to game day and when Hamilton walked into the locker room for some final pre-game instructions, there was no doubt his players were on point.

“I walked in and they were already up for the game and that energy just poured out onto the floor,” says Hamilton.

Crested Butte went immediately to work on both ends of the court, using the high post to penetrate the zone and then finding scoring chances from that.

“Our guys did a good job early on exposing areas of their zone where there were gaps,” says Hamilton. “Grayson [White] did a good job at the high post distributing from that area.”

Crested Butte jumped out to a 10-1 lead, forcing South Park to move into a different defensive scheme but the Titans continued to rack up points. Meanwhile, the Titans moved from their initial man-to-man defense into a pressure zone and by the time the first half ended, the Titans were sitting on a commanding 30-8 lead.

“Our defense really drove us in the first half,” says Hamilton. “Overall, it might have been our most complete half.”

Hamilton then turned to his bench to get additional players more time in the game and South Park came out far more aggressively in the third quarter to generate points, exposing the Titans’ struggles on rebounds.

“We’ve been slowly improving on boxing out but we still struggle,” says Hamilton. “They were throwing the ball up and sending all five guys after the rebound and had some success with that.”

Crested Butte remained in the driver’s seat though, and while the Burros were able to get things going a little better in the second half, Crested Butte matched them point-for-point and then some to close out the 55-27 win. Erik Wasinger led the team with 20 points, Alan Prieto tacked on 11 points and six rebounds and Grayson White scored seven and pulled down six boards as well. Hamilton believes the stat line of the game goes to Ethan Bacani though. Bacani finished the game with seven points, 12 steals and six assists.

“That’s a pretty good night,” says Hamilton.

The team also used the opportunity to continue working on their defensive schemes as Hamilton continuously changed their defense throughout the game to get the players used to those switches.

“The guys are really aggressive so we’re trying to have different options on defense,” explains Hamilton. “We went back and forth kind of for ourselves with the hopes that when we play a team that’s comfortable, we can use that formula to keep opponents off-guard.”

The Titans have a big week this week as they face Center on the road and then host Cotopaxi on Friday, January 31 for Family Night. The games Friday start with JV at 4 p.m., the girls play at 5:30 p.m. and the boys varsity tips off at 7 p.m.

“Center is one of the top teams in the league so it’s another opportunity to see what we are made of,” says Hamilton. “We played the first half of the season over the past two months and now we play the second half of our games over the next three weeks. A lot can happen.”

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