Draper • John Fakahafua anticipated Gabe Colosimo's full-court pass, put both of his feet to the ground and launched himself.
East's 6-foot-1 forward elevated at midcourt and slapped down the Juan Diego pass as Leopard star Parker Van Dyke picked up the ball and delivered a no-look pass on a line back to Fakahafua.
He finished the uncontested layup.
But that was just the beginning. Fakahafua and Van Dyke led a defensive charge in the third quarter of Wednesday night's game that produced four consecutive steals and a lightning-quick 10-0 run that propelled 4A East past 3A Juan Diego in a 60-50 win.
"It's nuts," said East coach Skip Lowe when asked to describe the unique hodgepodge of talent Fakahafua possesses.
During the 10-0 run, Fakahafua scored six of his 12 points in less than a minute and even started another fast-break opportunity for his Leopard teammates by making another jaw-dropping play. He calmly dropped the ball behind his back to teammate Preston Curtis as his momentum carried him up four rows into the bleachers.
"He's flying all over the place, going for every loose ball, and he brings a lot of athleticism," said Van Dyke, who netted a game-high 20 points, of his teammate.
Juan Diego quickly turned a six-point halftime lead for East into a two-point advantage early in the third quarter when Soaring Eagle center Branden Bowen sunk a jumper to cut the Leopard lead to 32-30.
That's when East turned up the heat defensively and went on an eventual 18-5 run.
"What I'm hoping for, more than anything, is that our pressure defense tires our own guys out so we have an excuse to take guys out and put other guys in," Lowe said, laughing.
When asked what he learned about his team heading into Friday night's big rivalry game against West, Fakahafua, with a big smile, said, "That we're in shape."
East guard Mitch Grant chipped in 14 points in the win over Juan Diego, 12 of which came in the second half. Juan Diego's Colosimo led his team with 13 points, while guard Will Hoffer scored all nine of his points from behind the arc.
The win propelled the Leopards to a 4-1 start this season, while the loss dropped the Soaring Eagle to 3-3.
East will serve as host to rival 5A West Friday at 7 p.m., and the Leopards are hoping to add to the Panthers' rough 1-5 start. Fakahafua's face lit up when the prospect of facing West was brought up after Wednesday's win over Juan Diego.
"To have the chance to be playing in this game is great," he said. "It's about bragging rights."