“We lost our focus”
While a win is a win, Titans head coach Brandin Hamilton remains somewhat disappointed with his team’s effort Friday, January 18 against the Center Vikings.
Things started out well for the Titans as they opened the game with a 10-0 run, including a couple of steals for easy baskets. Yet all was not well from Hamilton’s point of view.
He could sense that despite the score, his team was starting to get greedy, looking for steals rather than playing fundamental defense.
“We went right into that mode and we paid for that,” says Hamilton.
The Vikings stepped up the pressure in the second quarter and while the Titans still held a nine-point lead at halftime, Hamilton warned his team of the potential for doom.
His words of warning came to fruition over the course of the second half.
With the Titans sill looking for the home run steal and jumping out on double teams at random times, the Vikings turned hot from three-point range.
Center outscored the Titans 15-11 in the third quarter to cut the lead down to five points. Three minutes into the fourth quarter they tied it up and then took the lead on another three-pointer.
“We got loose on defense and they got hot shooting in the second half,” says Hamilton. “They hit six threes in the second half. We were in disarray but circled the wagons and took the lead back.”
The Titans looked to run the clock out with 30 seconds left and a one-point lead, but gave the ball back to Center. Pure hustle would then determine the fate of the Titans. After stealing the ball back, the Titans turned it over again, still up by one point.
“I called a timeout to set up our defense for the last seven seconds,” says Hamilton.
Unfortunately, the message was lost somewhere between the bench and the court. Center got the pass into play and up court to set up for another open three. Fortunately, Kain Hamilton and Ryan Costello saw it happening and busted wide to force the shooter to adjust his shot and the game-winning attempt missed its mark as the Titans escaped with a 37-36 win.
“We lost our focus,” says Hamilton.
On the bright side, a win is a win, and Hamilton was proud of his team for pulling it off in Center.
“It’s always hard to give up a lead, circle the wagons and pull out a win in a hostile environment,” says Hamilton. “Three key runs by three individual efforts was the difference. Kain in the first quarter, Ryan in the second and Jesse in the fourth quarter.”
Kain led the team with 13 points and six rebounds, Costello had eight points and six rebounds and Jesse Reeves dropped in 12 points.
Meanwhile the team turned the ball over 16 times and shot a paltry three-for-nine from the stripe.
“Two things are still an issue—turning the ball over under pressure and, surprisingly, free-throw shooting,” adds Hamilton. “We’re usually a great free-throw shooting team.”
The Titans get their next road test in a non-league matchup against Cripple Creek on Saturday, January 26.