<strong>HYRUM—</strong> Mountain Crest continued its region supremacy Wednesday night, as they trumped region rival Box Elder, 55-40.
Like so many previous games, the Mustangs came out below expectations in the first quarter. While MC turned up the heat defensively, it didn’t take hold in the first. A lot of fouls on the defensive end, coupled with a sloppy offensive performance put the Bees up 13-10 going into the second quarter.
“The Kids got a little bit stagnant out there, and we certainly can’t have that if we’re going to continue to play high caliber teams,” MC head coach Graydon Buchmiller said. “Some of it’s coaching, some of it’s the kids, we definitely have to have both of those things clicking as we get into the state tournament and luckily we have five games to continue to work and prepare towards that. That will definitely be a goal, is to not be stagnant on offense and keep trying to improve.”
The second quarter was much kinder to the Mustangs when senior Eddy Hall came out with a smooth defensive steal and two points to tie the Bees. Hall finished the night with eight points, and was excellent on the defensive side of the ball. Hall’s tying shot was closely followed by another two points to put the Mustangs up with four and a half minutes left in the half. Senior Tanner Knowles led the second quarter with five points, and MC led 27-25.
Coming out of the locker room, Mountain Crest peaked with a game clinching performance. Senior Faimafili Laulu-Pututau could not be stopped on either side of ball, as he recorded a steal and three layups all before Box Elder’s Shad Watson could put up two, with only five minutes remaining in the third. Watson – who averages 24 points a game – finished with a season-low 10 points.
“(We were just) making the plays that our team develops and just running the plays,” Pututau said of his third quarter dominance.
Defensively, the mustangs held the Bees to only five points in the third quarter, senior guard Tyler Thornton had three of those. Overall, Mountain Crest had a great defensive strategy, keeping Watson, a key player for the Bees, to nine all night. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Mustangs held a 41-30 lead.
“We felt like we were getting a little too stagnant,” Buchmiller said. “We needed to push the pace a little bit more, which sometimes means we get some things defensively and sometimes it just means we have to try and attack the rim a little bit more. The kids picked up the pace, we got into a favorable one that we liked to do and play with and we were able to get some easy baskets.”
The fourth quarter was smooth sailing for the Mustangs, as Box Elder sent senior Tyler Crosbie to the line four times. Crosbie scored 11 points in the final quarter, and was the top scorer with 15 on the night.
Mountain Crest will look to stay perfect in Region 5 action when the Mustangs make the short trip to valley-rival Logan Friday. Tipoff for that game is at 7 p.m.
“You have to show up with a mindset that you’re going to have to withstand a lot of things. Logan’s going to be playing their best game, and you would expect that from them on their home floor,” Buchmiller said. “They’re very tough, a tremendous amount of shooters and defensive players. It’s going to be a great Cache Valley rivalry between two competitive schools.”