Win streak carries Titans boys hoops into playoffs

Post season starts Friday, February 23

By Than Acuff 

The Crested Butte Titans boys basketball team rolled through their last three opponents to close out the regular season second in the league with a record of 6-1 and finished 15-4 overall. They now jump into the post season and open the district tournament when they face Montezuma-Cortez at Bayfield High School on Friday, February 23.

They kicked off the final week of the regular season with a 55-42 win over the Gunnison Cowboys on Wednesday, February 14. The Cowboys held the Titans close through three quarters, but Crested Butte outscored Gunnison 17-8 in the fourth quarter to run away with the win. Weston Miller led the team with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks while Porter Donohue dropped in 11 points.

“We take a lot of pride in our fitness and I attribute that fourth quarter, in part, to our fitness,” says head coach Hannes Gehring. “I do think the boys recognized they were the better team and kind of asserted their will in the fourth quarter.”

Two days later Crested Butte hit the road to face the Custer County Bobcats and continued their momentum with a 48-32 win, though the win wasn’t without its bumps. Three hours on a bus affected the team in the game as did Custer County’s effort, but Crested Butte still pulled out the win.

“We didn’t come out with the focus and intensity that is needed and we never really got to our normal level in that game,” says Gehring. “I do give Custer credit for playing strong defense.”

The Titans returned home to finish things off hosting the South Park Burros on Saturday, February 17. The Titans jumped out to a 15-2 lead in the first quarter and never slowed down, cruising to a 76-31 win. The Titans had four players score double digits, led once again by Miller. Miller ended up leading the league in all statistics, including averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game on the season.

“The boys took a completely different attitude and approach to the game from the night before, there’s so much power in confidence and self-belief,” says Gehring. “It was a tale of two nights.”

The Titans head to Bayfield High School Friday through Saturday, February 23–24, to open the post season with the district tournament, and this is when things get interesting for Crested Butte. While they are a 3A team, the Titans face a lot of 2A teams in the regular season because of their league set up, but it’s all 3A teams in the playoffs.

“What’s challenging is we don’t play a ton of really good teams throughout the year and when we go to the 3A tournament, it’s a jump up in competition,” says Gehring.

Regardless, Gehring feels good about their chances at districts and believes no matter how the district tournament plays out, they should still qualify as one of 32 teams in the regional tournament.

“I love where the boys are at and I like where they are mentally,” says Gehring. “We definitely have our work cut out for us with Cortez. We have to focus on taking care of the ball and matching their intensity.”

Winning the district tournament remains the short-term goal and would set the Titans up well for regionals.

“It’s totally within our potential,” says Gehring. “It’d be really fun to make a run, win districts and host regionals.”

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