Struggle on the road
[ by Than Acuff ]
Everything seemed to be back in place when the Crested Butte Titans boys’ basketball team hosted the Ouray Trojans on Tuesday, February 23 as they cruised to a 74-41 win. Three days later though they stumbled against Del Norte on the road, only to return home Saturday, February 27 and battle to a big win over Monte Vista.
The Titans jumped out to a 19-8 lead in the first quarter against the Trojans capped by the effort of Grayson White when he worked to keep the ball and kicked it out to Alan Prieto for a three-pointer at the buzzer.
White continued to dominate inside with Prieto providing points from both inside and outside and when the Titans ramped up the pressure in the second half with a press, they took firm grasp of the game scoring 44 points in the second half alone to roll to the win. White led the team with 27 points followed by Prieto with 17.
“We were able to adjust when our perimeter game wasn’t quite working and establish our inside play,” says coach Brandin Hamilton. “I definitely thought it was a turning point for us offensively, we were able to get more consistency.”
Three days later though a different Titans team showed up in Del Norte, somewhat hampered by some extenuating circumstances.
Crested Butte struggled in the first quarter and continued to battle some demons in the second quarter.
“We had some early setbacks that we couldn’t recover from and frustration started boiling over in the second quarter,” says Hamilton.
Still, the game was within reach as they returned to the floor in the third quarter but things just were not clicking for the Titans. Continued uncertainty on offense for Crested Butte allowed Del Norte to slowly build a 10-point lead as the third quarter continued.
Once Del Norte was up by 10 points, they settled into a slower pace on offense working longer possessions in the fourth quarter to stall the game for the win eventually closing it out 42-26.
“The guys just stayed uncomfortable and kind of hit the panic button,” says Hamilton. “It was a tough night.”
The Titans returned home on Saturday, February 27 to host the Monte Vista Pirates. Monte Vista joined the league this season and is a notoriously tough team that handed Del Norte a 14-point loss earlier in the season. Furthermore, with the season’s end looming on the near horizon and the post season still in question, it was a big test for the Titans resolve.
“They’re good and we went into the game feeling like our backs were against the wall and that we needed that one,” says Hamilton. “The guys responded though and we went into the game with the right mentality. The guys were locked in.”
The Titans suffered a big blow early when White had to leave the game with an injury but Crested Butte remained “locked in” despite the loss of White.
“We’ve played so many games without at least one starter that we didn’t even flinch,” says Hamilton.
And, while the Titans went into halftime down 24-22, Hamilton saw his team was more than ready for the second half challenge. The two teams continued to battle through the third quarter but the Titans were slowly winning the war as they took the lead in the third quarter.
“We were loving the battle and as the game wore on you could see the boys enjoyed the kind of game it was and Monte Vista was getting frustrated,” says Hamilton.
Crested Butte built a six-point lead in the fourth quarter but the Pirates kept plugging away including hitting a massive three-pointer to cut the Titans’ lead down to two with 15 seconds left in the game. Monte Vista fouled Erik Wasinger immediately to send him to the line and Wasinger drained both free throws to rebuild a cushion. Monte Vista came back up court looking for a quick basket and foul again but Wasinger stole the ball and rallied up court for a lay up to seal the 52-46 win. Wasinger finished the game with 23 points including hitting 12 of 14 free throws. Prieto added in 15 points and the Titans got some huge team points throughout the game.
“As a team we had to execute how we were going to look for baskets and we did a really nice job of that,” says Hamilton. “The role players had some huge moments and they all did a great job of stepping into bigger roles.”
The Titans close out the regular season this weekend with a home game against Custer County on Friday, March 5 and then hit the road to face South Park on Saturday, March 6.