“We started with integrity and continued it and maintained it”
by Than Acuff
The game could have gone a number of ways but I don’t think anyone expected it to go the way it did as the Crested Butte Titans girls basketball team rolled to a 53-31 win over the Cotopaxi Pirates.
The girls have been following a mostly JV schedule and faced off against the Pirate’s JV team in Mt. Olympus on Friday, January 31. Cotopaxi has seen several seasons of success over the Titans and therefore facing their JV proved a more appropriate opponent as Crested Butte continues its goal to rebuild their girls basketball program.
Still, the Titans were missing three key players to their lineup for the game, so coach Vaden Holmes spent the week preparing using the opportunity to continue bringing each and every player into the fold.
“I was a little nervous because we were missing three players so I spent the week working on the things that we could control like defense and rebounding,” says Holmes.
And while the Titans defense and rebounding was solid to open the game, it was another aspect, and other players, that showed this game was going to be different.
Cotopaxi opened with an easy bucket but when Lhotse Wychoff knocked down two from three-point land and Blakely Reynolds added in one of her own, the Titans started rolling. Alex Downey hit a 12-foot jumper off the glass, Reynolds continued to see success from deep and she closed the quarter out with a buzzer beater from midcourt for a 22-7 Titans lead as the crowd reached a crescendo not seen in years at a girls basketball game, or any game for that matter.
“I could not believe all of the points we scored,” says Holmes. “Sometimes shots fall, sometimes they don’t. That night, they did.”
Crested Butte carried their pace and hustle through the second quarter as well as Reynolds led from distance, India Nornes drained a shot from three-point land and Mara Pennie continued to chase down shots that did not fall, keeping the ball in Crested Butte’s hands.
Reynolds finished the first half with five three pointers of her own and Crested Butte was up 37-13 at the half.
The Titans hot hands cooled off in the third quarter and Cotopaxi started to cut into Crested Butte’s lead but the Titans’ intensity and hustle proved to be a valuable temporary antidote to Crested Butte’s shooting woes.
Their work as a team eventually paid off in the final minutes of the third quarter as Ellie Duryea remedied the scoring drought with back-to-back buckets down the stretch to maintain Crested Butte’s double-digit lead.
“Ellie definitely had a big role in the turnaround but they were all feeding off of each other and everybody had success in their own way,” says Holmes.
Wychoff, Nornes and Reynolds each hit from deep in the fourth quarter to push the game officially out of reach as Crested Butte closed out the 53-31 win. Reynolds led all scorers with 25 points as Wychoff and Nornes each scored nine points and Downey added in seven points to complement her work on rebounds.
“We started with integrity and continued it and maintained it,” says Holmes. “No matter who I put in, they all did their jobs.”
The Titans then headed to Sargent the next day and despite another quality effort, fell short losing by two points to Sargent in overtime.
“The girls still played awesome,” says Holmes.
They now face some tough challenges ahead as they have two games this week, hosting Sanford on Saturday, February 8 in mighty Mt. Olympus. Tip-off is at 2:30 p.m.
“We’re hoping to get the three players back, fine-tune some things and maintain the level we’ve reached and grow hungry to play at that level all of the time,” says Holmes. “We definitely have to bring our A game this week.”