PRESTON – Mountain Crest showed true grit in the final round of the Indian Classic tournament but was unable to overcome Star Valley. The lead was never larger than four points between the Braves and Mustangs over the last six minutes of the game but Coach Anderson’s squad squandered opportunities to finish off their second win on the season, losing 44-43.
Connor Willey hit a three with 3:33 left to go to get the first Mountain Crest lead 38-36. The Mustangs led until Taylor Horsley hit a 3 and gave Star Valley the 41-40 lead for good over the last 70 seconds. Myles Andrus had a 1-1 opportunity with a minute left down 41-40 but missed the front end. Hanzen Erickson split a pair of free throws to make it a 42-40 lead with 30 seconds left.
Mason Baldwin drove to the hoop but had his shot blocked from behind with under 15 seconds left. Baldwin was then called for a flagrant foul on Chase Merrell who split the free throws. Merrell then got it on the inbound since Star Valley kept the ball and split another pair but that made it a 44-40 lead. Tanner Bone hit a 3 as time expired but was left open since it was a four point lead.
The Mustangs struggled to start the game with four turnovers and found themselves down 17-6. An 8-0 run over the last six minutes in the half cut the lead for Star Valley to 20-16. However, Marshall Nethercott was called for an offensive foul with 16 seconds left, a recurring issue for the Mustangs. Mountain Crest was down 26-24 with 44 seconds left in the third and turned it over again. Coach Anderson’s squad turned it over twice in the two minutes after they took their first lead before Horsley hit the 3 for the 41-40 lead.
Turnovers and foul trouble again plagued Mountain Crest. The Mustangs gave up the ball 13 times for the game, including four in the crucial fourth quarter. Late in the game, Nethercott had to be subbed out on defense because of his four fouls and had several offensive turnovers because of fouls.
Bone was the only consistent offensive player through the game for Mountain Crest scoring the 6 points in the first quarter, and scoring every quarter for the game high 18. Nethercott again struggled in the first half going scoreless, but finished the game with 12 despite his foul trouble. No other Mustang had more than 3 points.
The two leading scorers for the Braves, Taylor Horsley and Chase Merrell, led the way with 14 points. Merrell picked up his third and fourth foul in a minute and half stretch in the fourth quarter. He sat at 4:28 and didn’t check in until the last minute and had a crucial rebound and two free throws.
Mountain Crest hosts the 1-4 Wasatch Wasps Wednesday to close out the pre-Christmas break season. Coach Kevin Anderson’s squad found some positives despite their seventh place finish in the Indian Classic tournament and will now get some rest after playing four games in five days.