Girls basketball battles to big win over Del Norte

“For the first time all year we were in control of the game”

By Than Acuff 

After falling to the Ridgway Demons on the road Tuesday, February 6, the Crested Butte Titans girls basketball team bounced back to battle its way to a 40-35 win over the Del Norte Tigers on Friday, February 9, in mighty Mt. Olympus.

The Ridgway game came down to the third quarter. The Demons had a tenuous 16-14 lead at halftime but outscored the Titans 14-5 in the third quarter and held their advantage to win 33-21.

“We shot ourselves in the foot in that game,” says coach Anna Bressnick. “We lost our heads a little, had a lot of little fouls and then just got in a hole in the third quarter.”

Three days later, the Titans returned to their home court to host the Tigers and celebrate seniors Lexi Pickering and Annie Collins with Senior Night.

“Before the game I told the girls we’ve got two great seniors that give 110% and are great leaders,” says Bressnick. “Tonight is about them. You are good basketball players so give everything you got for the two of them.”

It was a dubious start for Crested Butte as the Tigers jumped out to a 10-1 lead. The Titans then struck back when Pickering knocked down a 14-foot jumper, Collins hit two free throws and Molly Miller scored at the buzzer to pull back within three points.

Both teams struggled during the second quarter on offense with Collins hitting two more free throws and Calla Fenlon hitting a short jumper for Crested Butte’s only four points, but the Titans’ defense held Del Norte to five points total to keep them within four points.

“We had great defense from Annie [Collins],” says Bressnick. “She was just everywhere on defense.”

While Crested Butte struggled in the third quarter the previous game, they rallied in the third quarter this game opening the second half with a 13-3 run. Pickering started it off hitting a three-pointer and added in two more grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring. Collins continued to work in the paint with a block and a bucket and Miller’s coast-to-coast run for a layup capped the early outburst to put the Titans up 24-18. Del Norte finished the third quarter hitting four free throws and Collins fouled out, but Pickering hit another three-pointer to close the quarter for a 27-22 Crested Butte lead.

“The main change we made was we had Lexi [Pickering] bring the ball up the court and make quick passes up top which opened her up for quite a few shots,” says Bressnick. “We were able to get Del Norte off kilter.”

Losing a starting senior who provides a strong presence in the paint could have been the edge Del Norte needed to take the game over, but the Titans remained resilient and continued to surge through the fourth quarter. 

“I told the girls, we’re not supposed to beat this team, but we’re about to, so finish strong,” says Bressnick.

The Tigers scored four quick points to start but Pickering hit another three-pointer and Miller tallied two blocks and six straight points to keep the Titans out front. 

“Molly just came alive in the fourth quarter,” says Bressnick. “I just saw it click in her brain.”

Del Norte hit two from behind the three-point arc looking to mount a comeback, but the Titans knocked down four free throws down the stretch to seal the 40-35 win. Pickering and Miller each scored 15 points and Collins scored six, including shooting 100% from the free throw line.

“For the first time all year we were in control of the game,” says Bressnick. “They hung in there, locked it down and finished the game strong. It was a good feeling for me and the team.”

The Titans have four more games to close out the regular season including a home game on Saturday, February 17 against South Park, tipoff is at 2:30 p.m.

“We’ve got momentum on our side, riding high and look to take that performance into the last four games,” says Bressnick. “I think we’re ready for it.”

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