Titans boys basketball rolls to season opening win

“When the kids took the court, it was pretty obvious they came to compete” 

By Than Acuff 

All of the open gyms and preseason training was put to the test when the Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team hosted the Telluride Miners on Friday, December 1 in their opening game of the season, and the Titans passed with flying colors rolling to a 60-40 win.

The team only had nine full practices before the first game and coach Hannes Gehring admits there’s no way to truly tell if the team was ready until the opening tip off.

“I felt really good about the practices leading up to the game, the focus was there and the effort was there but it’s hard to tell,” says Gehring. “I do know at this point in the season this team is in the best shape of any other team I’ve coached.”

The Titans expected a tough game as Telluride had nine juniors returning from last year’s squad, but any concerns of the Titans’ preparedness were immediately assuaged. Crested Butte erupted from the opening tip off and dominated the first quarter to build a 17-4 lead.

“When the kids took the court, it was pretty obvious they came to compete,” says Gehring. “The energy and ferociousness we came out with in that first quarter really dictated the rest of the game.”

While the Titans put up 17 points in that opening quarter, it wasn’t the result of hot hands or a seamless unstoppable offense, rather Gehring touts the team’s effort up and down the court.

“It didn’t feel like we were clicking on all cylinders,” says Gehring. “We were just out-rebounding them and getting every loose ball. We just had so many second opportunities from our effort.”

The X factor for the Titans came in two players—new addition to the program Adin Kurak proved to bring a new level to the floor and sophomore Vinny Sciortino rose to the occasion in his first varsity start.

“Vinny really just shined on the offensive boards,” says Gehring.

The two teams played even basketball through the second and most of the third quarter as the Titans held a solid lead for much of the game. As the third quarter continued, the Titans’ fitness started to shine through.

“One thing that became obvious at the end of the third quarter is that we were just running past them in transition,” says Gehring. “We were tired too but less tired than they were.”

Gehring and the coaches called on the team to keep pushing the pace through the fourth quarter and the players responded to outscore Telluride 18-11 down the stretch for the 60-40 win. Kurak led the Titans with 22 points and Weston Miller finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five steals. 

As impressive as the stats and the 20-point win appear on paper, Gehring saw something else in his team that bodes well for the rest of the season.

“The players excelled at how they responded to mistakes they made,” says Gehring. “They had a ‘next play’ mentality. Ted Lasso goldfish mentality.”

In addition, the team dynamic on the court has Gehring the most excited.

“They just played with this incredible joy and were excited for each other, excited about the other player’s success,” explains Gehring. 

The Titans hit the road to play North Fork this week and then remain on the road for a tournament in Grand Junction Friday and Saturday, December 8-9.

“These games are an opportunity to get more game speed reps and work on what repeating what we have in place so far,” says Gehring.

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