Titan boys rally to take victory over Centennial Rams

Total team effort

Free-throw shooting and turnovers can make or break a team in the post-season. On Tuesday night at Mt. Olympus the Crested Butte Titans basketball team nailed both against the Centennial Rams. The Titans shot 100 percent from the free-throw line and turned the ball over a mere eight times to emerge with a 59-46 win—their sixth win in a row—and advance to the district semifinals on Friday, February 26 in Alamosa.
The Rams have a player who is famously red-hot or ice-cold from three-point range. Tuesday night he opened on fire, hitting his first three shots from behind the arc to lead the Rams to en early 11-2 lead over Crested Butte.
But as time wore on, the Titans found their groove on offense to pull back into the game.
Junior Jake Grogg scored six of his team-leading 16 points in the first quarter alone as the Titans cut Centennial’s lead down to four by the end of the first quarter.
Sophomore Anton Peck and freshman Ryan Costello combined for 10 points in the second quarter and the Titans were up 26-22 heading into halftime.
Still, coach Robin Loyed was less than pleased with the situation.
“The guys just didn’t play well in their help defense,” says Loyed. “At halftime I just tried to get the guys to be more patient on offense. I challenged them to make four passes before they took a shot and execute offensively.”
With sophomore Luis Aguirre in their top scorer’s face and the Titans patience taking over the pace of the game, Crested Butte jumped out to a 33-22 lead three minutes into the third quarter.
A Centennial timeout cooled the Titans off for a stint and the Rams pulled back to within five points, but the Titans team offense started to click once again with four players contributing on five straight possessions.
Grogg hit a short jumper off the glass, and Peck drove to the hole for a quick four points. Senior Emmett McFarland dropped in two buckets in the paint and freshman Jesse Reeves sank a 14-foot jumper to build a 43-34 Titans lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“They showed some maturity in that third quarter,” says Loyed.
With Aguirre’s defense still frustrating Centennial’s top scorer and Peck and Grogg owning the lane, the Titans took control of the game completely to pull ahead 53-36 with just over two minutes left in the game.
The Rams battled back to within nine points but Aguirre stopped them in their tracks with a huge block and junior Henry Linehan hit six of six from the free-throw line in the final minute to seal the 59-46 win.
“Luis has stepped into a huge roll,” says Loyed. “He’s really given us a lift down the stretch.”
Grogg pulled down seven rebounds to go with his 16 points. Peck scored 14 points and grabbed six boards and Linehan finished with eight points and eight assists. In the end, all eight players who suited up for the game scored points.
“It was a real solid overall effort,” says Loyed.
The Titans head to Alamosa on Friday, February 26 to face Creede in the district semifinal game at Centauri Middle School. Tip-off is at 5:15 p.m. Win or lose, the Titans play again on Saturday at Alamosa High School with the top three teams advancing to the regional tournament.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” says Loyed, “but I think we could win this thing if we put four quarters together.”

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