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Boys basketball: Colorado Titans’ momentum slowed by COVID-19

Area club program had plans to add girls teams in 2020

LAFAYETTE, CO - Centaurus High School's ...
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Centaurus senior Owen Koonce is one player hoping to enjoy at least a small portion of his final club-eligible season with the Colorado Titans.

For many high school basketball players, spring and summer signals the transition from prep ball to club hoops with a whole new set of teammates and competitors, big tournaments and out-of-state trips.

The global COVID-19 outbreak has halted that, at least for now.

The Colorado Titans in particular were really looking forward to this summer after an incredibly successful 2019 season and with the planned addition of a girls program in 2020. But, alas, that all has to be put on hold like most everything else in the world of sports.

“We’re in a holding pattern just like everybody else,” Titans director Rick Jimenez said. “There’s nothing going on whatsoever. But the great part is that a lot of families have been really supportive and have still been involved with our Titan family. We’re focused, first and foremost, on the health and safety of our players.”

Like many other clubs, the Titans were close to holding tryouts when basketball and prep sports-related organizations like the NBA and CHSAA started cancelling events and postponing seasons. Naturally, the northern Colorado-based club organization followed suit. It was a difficult decision but one that had to be made, and one that at the very least delayed the program’s continuance of last summer’s success.

In 2019, the Titans won three major national tournaments and reached the quarterfinals or better in four others. They were three points away from a championship at the Las Vegas Classic in their final tournament of the season.

During the high school season this past winter, four Titans players were voted player of the year in their respective conferences. Mead’s Will Maher was voted the best in the Tri-Valley League, Silver Creek’s Andrew Duquette led the Northern League and Resurrection Christian’s Isaac Jessup topped the Patriot League. Fairview’s Jalen Page was voted player of the year in the Front Range League and was also named player of the year.

Other Titans players like Longmont’s 6-foot-8 forward Eddie Kurjak and uncommitted Centaurus senior Owen Koonce, who are both collegiate prospects, are left in limbo as the Titans and other teams hope they can salvage from portion of the club season in June or July.

“We feel for all the local teams along with all the other high school programs that had their season cut short because of the virus affecting the world,” Jimenez said. “Many local athletes including some in our program have worked so hard to play for the state championship and that was cut short. But all we can do is continue to meet remotely as a board and try to do what’s best for the kids.”

Even more tempering to the Titans’ momentum is the fact they were planning to have an official girls program this season. The prospective Titans girls had already completed one tryout on March 1 but the second, scheduled for March 15, was canceled. The Titans girls, who will be led by Carlee Lough, are hoping to eventually field 17U, 16U, 15U, 14U and 13U teams and had upwards of 80 players signed up for tryouts, which are still open

“Obviously, we were very excited with the numbers we had for tryouts and to keep going with the girls program,” Lough said. “So, it is a bit of a hit that this happened. But our first priority is the safety of our players, parents and coaches. As far as where we go from here, we’re kind of on hold from a tournament, practice and tryout standpoint. We’re still hoping to have something in July.

“But until then, we can just encourage our kids to practice whatever they can at their houses, try to get fresh air and do whatever they can safely.”

It remains to be seen if any club basketball will be played this season. But if it is, the Titans will be ready to go.

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