“I love that the guys didn’t quit”
[ by Than Acuff ]
After splitting their games at a tournament over the past weekend, the Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team head into the holiday break but don’t plan on taking time off in an effort to prepare for the frantic schedule ahead of them once they return to school in January.
The Titans strung a couple of wins together prior to their upcoming trip to a tournament in Simla, Colorado last weekend, including a hard fought 52-47 win over North Fork High School. Unfortunately, the program underwent some upheaval following that stretch as Mike Bacani was appointed the head coach in the weeks that followed. The good news, Bacani has been a part of both the boys middle school and high school Titans basketball programs for the past seven years so the change was as smooth as could be.
The Titans hit the road Friday, December 16 to continue honing their game with non-league opponents and tipped off the first game of the tournament against Soroco high school, a bit of an unknown entity to the Titans.
“We only knew their record, but I did know that they’re a good program historically,” says Bacani.
Given the tournament format and cognizant of the fact that their opponent on Saturday would be watching their game, Bacani laid out a simple goal for his team.
“Teams don’t typically invite hard teams to their tournaments, so we went into the game focused and looking to make a statement,” says Bacani.
The Titans responded as they opened up on Soroco from the opening possession to build an early lead carrying their momentum into halftime.
“We played hard from the outset,” says Bacani. “We came out focused and had a point to prove.”
They then ramped things up in the second half as their defense held Soroco to two points the entire half and cruised to a 59-17 win. Riley Davis led the team scoring 18 points in the win.
“We were aggressive the whole game, playing tough defense and hitting the boards at both ends of the court,” says Bacani.
The Titans would have their hands full on Saturday, December 17 though against Simla high school who are ranked seventh in the state. Still, Bacani had the team set to put up a fight.
“They’re a really strong team and probably thought they could walk all over us,” says Bacani.
Crested Butte battled with Simla through the opening minutes of the game but one Simla shooter turned red hot hitting five of five from three-point land to help spark a 16-2 run leaving the Titans behind 25-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Crested Butte continued to fight eventually cutting Simla’s lead to 11 points in the second half but shooting woes plagued the Titans as they ended up shooting one for 24 from behind the three-point arc and eventually fell 64-41.
“You hope for 30% and if we reach that, that’s another 15 points,” says Bacani. “We have to defend better, but they were great shooters.”
Ben Barney led the team with 16 points and while a big loss can sting, Bacani was content with the two-game stretch.
“I love that the guys didn’t quit,” says Bacani. “Ben stepped up over the weekend and found his groove and a good goal for us is to average 50 points. Our defense and offense are coming around.”
With that in mind, Bacani will be holding workouts over the break to prepare for a crazy stretch of games, including league play, once they start playing again in January with 13 games over 20 days.
“We’re working on building momentum,” says Bacani. “We really want to take this opportunity to get better because it’s going to be a sprint when we get back.”