<strong>OGDEN—</strong> Cache Valley was guaranteed to put at least one team in the 4A boys basketball state championship game, as rivals Mountain Crest and Logan squared off in the first semifinal of the night Friday.
Logan, the Cinderella story of the tournament after winning two play-in games just to make the field and then knocking off defending champion and top-seeded Orem in the first round, jumped out to a big lead early. The veteran Mountain Crest squad battled back though, and did just enough down the stretch to pull out a hard-fought 54-51 win and advance to the 4A championship.
Trailing by as many as 14 early in the second quarter, Mountain Crest slowly whittled away at the Logan lead and got back into the game. The Grizzlies led by eight with a little more than four minutes to play, but the Mustangs embarked on a 14-2 run that culminated with an old-fashioned three-point play by Faimafili “Mo” Lualu-Pututau with 56 seconds to play.
Senior Tyler Crosbie was also instrumental in the run, as he forced back-to-back steals, the first of which gave Mountain Crest its first lead of the game with 2:35 remaining.
Not to be outdone, Logan’s Mr. Bigshot, Taylor Compton, knocked down a pull-up 3-pointer to pull Logan back within one, 52-51, with 44.8 seconds remaining. Crosbie was fouled after the ensuing inbounds pass, and pushed the MC lead back to three with 37.6 seconds left.
After a pair of Logan timeouts, the Grizzlies had one more chance to tie the game as they inbounded the ball with 12.3 seconds left. Mountain Crest played solid defense though, and Logan struggled to find a good look. Eventually senior Luke Falk fired up an awkward shot from the corner. The 3-pointer was online, but came up short as the Grizzlies fell to the Mustangs for the third time on the season.
Mountain Crest’s reward is a spot in Saturday’s 4A state championship game, which tips off at 4 p.m. at the Dee Events Center in Ogden. The Mustangs will see a familiar foe in that game, as they’ll take on valley-rival Sky View and hope to beat the Bobcats for the third time this season as well.
Sky View halted Bountiful’s 20-game winning streak in the nightcap, as the Bobcats won in overtime in thrilling fashion, on a half-court buzzer-beater. The Mustangs routed SV in Smithfield earlier this season, before winning on a Crosbie layup at the buzzer in Hyrum.
Despite Friday’s victory, it looked like Logan was the better team for the majority of the game. Pututau got in foul trouble early, and the Mustangs offense really struggled in the first half as they only shot 34.8 percent. Logan led 12-7 after one quarter of play, and then built a 14-point lead early in the second.
A mini run by the Mustangs closed the gap to nine at the half, 30-21. Tanner Knowles was huge throughout the game for Mountain Crest as he finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and kept the Mustangs in the game early.
Following the intermission, the third quarter was sloppy, but Mountain Crest continued to inch closer as they pulled to within seven. Pututau came alive in the fourth though, and the Mustangs defense propelled them to a 23-13 advantage in the final stanza, and a chance to play for a state title.