Boys Titans dominate Lake County hoops tournament
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 05 December 2012
“The kids were pumped”
Every year coach Brandin Hamilton takes his Titans basketball team to Leadville for a season-opening tournament against some bigger schools. The weekend provides a good early test for the Titans as they typically face a mix of solid programs and fledgling squads.
This year, the Titans found mostly fledgling programs as they rattled off three big wins to take the tournament title.
The Titans averaged more than 53 points per game while their defense allowed a paltry 18 points per game.
The Titans opened the weekend on Friday, November 30, decimating Darren Patterson Christian Academy (DPCA) 63-9. DPCA is new to the tournament and while they brought a fairly tall line-up, the team was young and the Titans literally ran away with the game early.
“We worked on our transition offense,” says Hamilton. “We’ve been working really hard on a sideline break.”
Senior Kane Hamilton led all scorers with 19 points, while senior Ryan Costello recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was a great first game in terms of validating the work the kids have put in this season,” says Brandin.
The Titans then tipped off against Gilpin County on Saturday. Gilpin County is traditionally tough and beat the Titans by 20 points when the two teams met at the same tournament last year.
Then again, last year the Titans had only two starters for the tournament, so this year was completely different.
After scouting Gilpin County the night before, Hamilton and the team were confident they could, and should, win the game. After a somewhat shaky first quarter, the Titans took control of the game, building a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.
“We didn’t come out real smooth,” says Brandin. “Our break was not as clean and we had a couple early turnovers forcing it up the middle.”
Clifford Gibbens helped pace the Titans to the commanding first half lead, draining four from behind the three-point arc.
The Titans carried their momentum through the second half to finish with a 49-23 win and advance to the tournament finals to face the host team Lake County.
Gibbens finished the game leading all scorers with 18 points and did a big job on defense as well, with seven steals.
“Cliff’s back and he had a monster weekend,” says Brandin. “We expect Kane, Jesse and Ryan to have big games and we found out that Cliff has that same potential.”
Lake County had similar success over its first two games against DPCA and Gilpin County so the match-up appeared solid on paper. Furthermore, Brandin saw potential trouble with Lake County’s zone defense. Nevertheless, confidence was high among coaches and players.
“Going in I felt like if we played our brand of basketball, we should come away with a 10-point win at least,” says Brandin. “The kids were pumped.”
The key came in some pre-game adjustments instituted by the coaching staff.
“We made our adjustments before the game and they did it really well,” says Hamilton.
So well, in fact, that the Titans held Lake County to one field goal and eight free throws in the first quarter to build a 24-10 lead by halftime.
The Titans finished their tournament title run with the 48-19 win, putting a strong close to their three-game run.
Senior Jesse Reeves dropped in 16 points and Kane put together a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“We were playing good basketball,” says Brandin. “There was unselfish play, consistently good defense and at different times we had different guys take over. Great team wins.”
The team also got key minutes from junior Tommy Rainville and Grant Johnson had a solid weekend at the guard spot.
“Grant won his match-up every game and Tommy did his job when on the floor with a couple of rebounds and steals,” says Brandin.
The Titans head to Meeker to play in the Cowboy Shootout Thursday through Saturday, December 6-8. It will be a huge test for the Titans as the tournament draws big teams from northwestern Colorado as well as Wyoming.
“If we come out of it with a winning record I’ll be satisfied,” says Brandin.