“We shot the lights out”
[ by Than Acuff ]
Following the holiday break with a limited number of practices allowed and a limited number of players showing up, the Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team opened league play with a thumping 66-25 win over the Trinidad Miners on Friday, January 7.
The Titans headed into the holiday break on a five-game losing streak as they opened the season with a run of stout non-league opponents. In addition, they lost senior and captain Grayson White to injury so the first couple of weeks were tough. Nevertheless, the players rallied through and coach Hannes Gehring felt the team had started to turn the corner.
“We were coming off some pretty good growth heading into the break,” says Gehring.
But the holiday break stalled the team’s progress and while they were allowed limited workouts per Colorado high school rules, attendance was erratic.
“I don’t think we made any progress over the break,” says Gehring. “Numbers at practices weren’t great. Some of that was due to illness.”
Once students returned to school last week, the numbers remained a bit less than expected, but the players that did make it were all in, making for a solid four days leading up to the Trinidad game.
“The energy was there in practice, very competitive, and the players are buying in,” says Gehring. “We had some of the best practices we’ve had all year.”
Furthermore, White returned to practices from his injury and while not fully cleared to play in the Trinidad game, his presence helped bring things to a new level.
“He’s our heartbeat,” says Gehring. “Our heart and toughness circles around Grayson.”
The Titans carried their energy from practices into the Trinidad game from the opening tip off. Crested Butte had struggled prior to the break with their shooting, but with a concerted effort to keep the ball moving, Titan shooters started getting better looks and shots started to fall for Crested Butte. So much so that they opened the game hitting five of six three-pointers led by Erik Wasinger who hit his first three attempts from behind the arc.
“We shot the lights out,” says Gehring.
Crested Butte built a 16-7 lead by the end of the first period and continued to pour it on to go up 39-9 by halftime.
“We did to Trinidad what we’re capable of doing to more teams,” says Gehring.
With the game well in hand, Gehring put some limitations on the Titans in the second half to continue working on moving the ball on offense. They still put up 21 points in the third quarter and finished the game with a 66-25 win. Wasinger finished the game with 31 points, Alan Prieto scored 17, Ben Barney knocked down 11 points and Ethan VanMarter came off the bench to score eight points.
“We play down to the competition a lot but this game we asserted ourselves,” says Gehring. “We were passing the ball, being unselfish and that’s part of why we shot so well,” says Gehring. “Right now we’re moving the ball really fast and they’re seeing the benefits of sharing the ball.”
Crested Butte will now set their sights on a big challenge this Friday, January 14 at 7 p.m. when they host defending league champions Del Norte for the first Titans home game of the season.
“We have our work cut out for us,” says Gehring. “They have three of the best guards in the league.”
Fortunately, it will be in mighty Mt. Olympus and the Titans might have everyone back in action for only the second time all season.
“We’ve not had a single game at full strength, except for the first game of the season,” says Gehring. “It’s our first home game which is really exciting. There’s a magic to that.”
Unfortunately for players and fans, due to school district protocols regarding COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, attendance at the game is limited to immediate family of the players. You can still watch the Titans from home though on the NFHS Network.