Strong second half paces Titans to win
I’m not going to sugar-coat this one—the Crested Butte Titans boys’ basketball team played one of its worst halves of hoops this season in their game against Sierra Grande on Friday, February 13. But they still managed to come away with a win.
No one could find their rhythm offensively, while their defense looked confused most of the first half.
“Those were two real problems,” says head coach Robin Loyed. “We were ice cold and we just were not preventing any penetration, and that’s not like us.”
Despite the Titans’ woes, senior John Wright led the offense, scoring 11 of the Titans’ 12 points in the first quarter, eventually leading the team with 27 points on the night.
Unfortunately, Wright ran into foul trouble early in the game, leaving the leadership role up to senior Robbie Holleran. Holleran took control in the second quarter on offense, scoring 10 of the Titans’ 14 points and looked to startle the Titans defense out of its coma with a handful of steals for breakaway buckets.
Sierra Grande remained within striking distance though, as the Titans team defense continued to struggle. The Titans took a tenuous two-point lead into halftime, leaving Loyed to switch his defensive strategy.
“That forced me at halftime to switch to a zone,” says Loyed. “I hated to do it but we just weren’t moving our feet on defense.”
The move forced Sierra Grande to the perimeter and senior Chris Sharpe and sophomore Henry Linehan stepped up the pressure outside to handcuff the Sierra Grande offense.
Meanwhile, the senior Titan trio of Holleran, Wright and Sharpe rattled off nine straight points at the start of the third quarter to build a 35-24 lead.
Sierra Grande cut the Titan’s lead back down to six, but junior reserve Emmett McFarland buried a baseline jumper to quash the Sierra Grande comeback and rebuild the Titans’ 11-point lead.
The Titans then exploded in the fourth quarter, outscoring Sierra Grande 25-7 to run away with a 68-42 win. Sharpe opened the fourth quarter hitting three of three free throws and draining his second three-pointer of the night to put the Titans on top, 49-35. Holleran followed with five unanswered points and the Titans were flawless from the free-throw line down the stretch, 16 of 19 on the night, to close out the win.
“I was really proud of them,” says Loyed. “I thought they adjusted well as a team at halftime and really stepped up and won in a different way.”
Holleran scored 22 points and pulled down 15 rebounds in the game and now averages double-digit scoring and rebounding. Sharpe added 13 points to the senior shootout and also averages double-digit scoring.
“Now we have three guys popping double figures,” says Loyed. “Any time you can get that balanced scoring it’s hard for teams to know who to guard.”
The Titans were scheduled to face Aguilar on Saturday, February 14 but Aguilar was missing players and forced to forfeit the game.
The Titans are now 18-0 with one game left in the regular season against Holy Trinity on Saturday, February 21, a team they handled easily earlier in the season.
“Basically at this point we’re starting our district tournament preparation,” says Loyed. “Not only do we want to do well in districts, we want to win the district.”
The Titans will host the first game of the district tournament at Mt. Olympus on Tuesday, February 24 at either 5 or 6:30 p.m.
A win there will advance them to the second round of the tournament at Adams State in Alamosa on Friday, February 27 at 8 p.m., with the championship game on Saturday, February 28.
Anyone looking to make the trip to Alamosa to see the Titans battle for the first district title in Titans boys’ basketball history should book their rooms now as both the 1A and 2A district tournaments will be going on at Adams State that weekend.