Ogden • Sheer will.
That’s what Mountain Crest coach Graydon Buchmiller saw from his senior as the window was closing on his career.
It was in Tyler Crosbie’s eyes as he forced a pair of steals that gave the Mustangs their first lead. It almost seemed as if he willed in that last free throw, the one that bounced off the front of the rim and paused before falling through the net.
Will was with the entire Mountain Crest team as it clawed its way back from a 13-point deficit into the state finals with a 54-51 win over crosstown rival Logan on Friday night. The Mustangs’ smothering defense proved to be the difference, keying a 9-0 run that swung the game their way.
Tanner Knowles led the team with dunks and 3-pointers on the way to 18 points. Faimafili Laulu-Pututau had an effective second half after encountering foul trouble, scoring 10 in the latter period.
But as the minutes wound down, Crosbie played a huge role in saving Mountain Crest’s season as a legion of fans from both sides screamed onto the floor at the Dee Events Center.
“I think it finally slapped them in the face: This is what’s gonna happen if you don’t start playing defense,” Buchmiller said. “I think they took that upon themselves to step it up, and the score was what they got themselves. They did that on their own.”
Crosbie was just one of the tone-setters for the Mustangs’ second-half effort. A lackluster start on the boards and making shots gave the Grizzlies the early edge. Logan went into the half leading by nine.
Mountain Crest attacked after intermission. The Mustangs pressed the Grizzlies into 12 second-half turnovers, leading to 21 points off Logan’s giveaways. Although a pair of 3-pointers helped give the Grizzlies a lead with five minutes left, a spirited run of layups by Crosbie, Knowles and Eddy Hall erased it.
It was characteristic of the rivalry between the two Cache Valley schools: loud, physical and close. It was Mountain Crest’s third win over Logan this season, its second by three points.
“It was huge — we know half the people here,” Laulu-Pututau said. “To play like that and come out with a win was great.”
Logan’s rebounding helped keep it in the game, even after Mountain Crest stepped up its game. The Grizzlies had a final chance to tie with 30 seconds left, but they couldn’t find a shot against the stout Mustangs defense.
It fell to Luke Falk, who scored 13 for Logan, to try to find points. His contested shot bounced off the bucket, and Mountain Crest had won.
The Mustangs are well-acquainted with going to championships but coming up short — the football team has lost the in the finals twice in the last three years. Mountain Crest is hoping Saturday will be different.
“We’re hungry,” Laulu-Pututau said. “We want this.”
O Mountain Crest vs. Sky View
Saturday, 4 p.m.
Where • At the Dee Events Center, Ogden
TV • KJZZ