Titans girls basketball pushes through to Districts

“I feel like we’re kind of feisty right now so anything can happen”

By Than Acuff

It’s been quite a couple of weeks for the Crested Butte Titans girls basketball team. After falling to Gunnison 43-25 on Wednesday, February 14, the Titans won their final two games of the regular season to finish 10-10 on the season, and then took down Bayfield on Tuesday, February 20, to punch their ticket to the District tournament Friday and Saturday, February 23–24, where they will face Centauri.

Crested Butte took on Custer County to start their three-game run on the right foot with a heavily contested 32-30 win that almost got away from them. It was going to be a tough game before it even started as the Titans were missing Lexi Pickering to injury, but their defense led the way through the first three quarters.

“We only gave up 15 points in the first three quarters, that’s a pretty solid defensive effort for sure,” says head coach Anna Bressnick.

The game then got tense as Custer County made a run at the Titans in the fourth quarter and tied it up 30-30 with eight seconds left. Bressnick called a timeout to design a play for Molly Miller, but the plan went out the window once the girls returned to the floor.

“They didn’t run it at all,” says Bressnick.

Instead, Calla Fenlon took the inbounds pass, dribbled up court and pulled up to bury a jumper from the elbow at the buzzer to win the game. Miller led the team with 16 points, Grace Bogard scored six and Annie Collins five points.

“We let them come back but my kids don’t have any quit in them,” says Bressnick. 

Crested Butte closed out the regular season with a home game against the South Park Burros on Saturday, February 17.

After taking an early 7-3 lead on points from Collins and Fenlon, they lost Pickering to an ankle injury and the game started to fall apart. The Burros closed the first quarter with a 12-2 run to build a 15-9 lead. 

Crested Butte shifted things a bit on defense and started pressuring the Burro guards further out and the move shook up South Park’s rhythm. Meanwhile, both Fenlon and Collins dropped in key baskets and Pickering returned to the floor to provide a threat from the perimeter knocking down two three-pointers in a row to put Crested Butte back on top 20-19 by halftime.

“We pulled the defense up a little bit and we thought we could get them to make mistakes before they could even get into their offense,” says Bressnick.

Fenlon pulled down an offensive rebound and scored to open the third quarter and with Collins battling in the paint, the Titans defense on point and Pickering hitting two more three-pointers, the Titans were out ahead 28-22 by the end of the third quarter.

Remarkably, neither team scored a point in the fourth quarter as the Titans put the finishing touches on the 28-22 win. Pickering had the hot hand for the Titans with 12 points and Collins dropped in eight points while in the mixer in the paint all game long.

“We gave up 15 points in the first quarter and just seven the rest of the game,” says Bressnick. “Our help side defense got so much better as the game continued.”

They then jumped into post season play to face the Bayfield Wolverines in a “play in” game with the winner advancing to the District tournament. The Titans were missing Pickering for the game, but they hardly missed a beat relying on defense once again. The Titans held Bayfield to four points until midway through the second quarter. And while they struggled on offense as well, they finally caught fire to score nine points down the stretch for a 14-6 lead at halftime.

The Wolverines scored the first five points coming out of halftime, but Miller and Collins continued to do what they do at both ends of the court and Lola Wais hit a couple of three pointers as Crested Butte built a 35-14 lead with six minutes left in the game.

Mental errors and rushed play by Crested Butte offered a small window for Bayfield to climb back in the game but Crested Butte held tight to eventually knock them back down to win 41-31 and advance to the District tournament. Miller scored 23 points and Collins dropped in 10 while shutting off Bayfield inside with a tremendous defensive effort.

“Annie played probably one of her most complete games all year,” says Bressnick. “We were able to stand up, stand tall, bend but not break. It was a team effort. I feel like we’re kind of feisty right now so anything can happen.”

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