Boys basketball takes down Lake County

“There’s a lot of guys contributing and they feed off each other”

by Than Acuff

The Crested Butte Titans came close to cratering but perseverance and composure eventually paved the way to victory as the boys basketball team closed out a 42-25 win over the Lake County Panthers on Friday, December 20.

It all started so good. With Grayson White in complete beast mode and the rest of the team playing quality defense and knocking down free throws, Crested Butte opened up a 12-2 lead on the Panthers by the end of the first quarter. White continued his assault on the floor with two offensive rebounds for baskets and two blocks. Ethan Bacani tacked on eight points as well in the second quarter and by the time the horn sounded at the end of the first half, Crested Butte was sitting on a 24-7 lead.

“We’ve been focusing on defense and they surprised me with how clean their defense was,” says coach Brandin Hamilton. “Lake County also played a 1-2-2 defense and the weakness in that is the middle. But, you need someone in there who can make the plays and Grayson stepped up to the task.”

The other part working in Crested Butte’s favor was Lake County’s shooting. While the Titans’ defense did keep the Panther shooters out of sync, they were still missing free throws and open looks that added fuel to the Titans’ fire. As a result, while Crested Butte had a sizeable lead, Hamilton knew it could change in an instant.

“They’re a better team than the score showed,” says Hamilton. “We were on and they were cold but they play with a lot of pressure and they can turn a game with pressure like that.”

The halftime break allowed the Panthers to regroup as they came out in the third quarter and started to chip away at the Titans’ lead. Carlos Franco drove the baseline for a key bucket early in the third quarter but Lake County started clicking to go on an 8-2 run. Crested Butte stalled the Panther attack with two huge team baskets reaping the rewards of great ball movement to set up Erik Wasinger for a three-pointer and a lay up, but Lake County closed the third with seven points gaining additional momentum as both White and Bacani picked up their fourth fouls.

The game then hung in the balance for the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. With players in foul trouble and Lake County gaining steam, the Panthers had pulled to within eight points and everything seemed to be going their way.

“Our foul trouble turned the game into a grind,” says Hamilton.

Bacani then stepped to line twice to drain four free throws and White knocked down a three-pointer to stop the Panthers in their tracks.

“Grayson’s three-pointer was huge and Bacani’s free throws helped calm the game down,” says Hamilton.

Lake County called a timeout and flirted with one last attack but the Titans switched up their defense to fluster the Lake County offense.

“We switched to a funky zone that’s very hard to solve,” says Hamilton. “Once it started working I thought we’re going to be okay.”

The Titans knocked down three more free throws down the stretch and held Lake County scoreless in the final two minutes to seal the 42-25 win. Bacani led the team with 17 points followed by White with 11 and White led all players in rebounds at both ends of the court.

“This is a team that knows how to keep it together,” says Hamilton. “There’s a lot of guys contributing and they feed off each other.”

The Titans have one more game at the start of the holiday break and then return to action in January.

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