SMITHFIELD — In a repeat performance of a few weeks ago, the Mountain Crest boys basketball team topped Sky View for the second time in three weeks in Region 5 action Wednesday night.
The only difference this time is the Mustangs pulled off the victory on the road, holding off a late charge from the Bobcats to finish off a 40-33 win.
In a low-scoring affair, where points were few and far between, it was the defense of both sides that dictated the course of the game. But as Mountain Crest's Alex Kuresa, who led the Mustang's with 16 points, explained, in a rivalry game between two Cache Valley high schools, such battles can be expected.
"It's a defensive game," said Kuresa. "There are going to be steals, and scores are going to be in transition. Not a lot of organized scores, not a lot of set scores — just kind of scrappy basketball.
"It's always going to be a physical game between rivalries. We're definitely all for it. We have three all-state football players starting on our team, so we're all for physical."
The cross-valley visitors fell behind only once early, allowing the Bobcats' Garrett Hinton to get the first basket of the game. The Mustangs responded with a 3-pointer from Anthony Israelsen and never looked back.
A bright spot for Sky View came in the second quarter, when the Bobcats clamped down on defense and only allow Mountain Crest to score two points.
The third quarter would be a different story, however, as the momentum swung in the Mustangs' favor. Kuresa lead the charge by getting the first basket of the period and then quickly stealing the ball and doubling his point total for the first half in a matter of seconds.
Kuresa's effort sparked an 11-4 run for Mountain Crest that put the Mustangs out in front for the rest of the contest. It's an effort that did not go unnoticed by Mountain Crest head coach Jim Crosbie.
"He's one of those kids that's going to say, 'I'm going to put you on my shoulders and we're going to win,' " Crosbie said of Kuresa. "And it's not anything you coach, it's what he does."
Although Sky View kept the game close enough to create some drama in the closing moments. The game's momentum seemed to swing back to the home team's favor as the third quarter came to a close and Sky View's Tanner Crockett drilled a buzzer-beating shot from well behind the arc.
Crockett would sink another trey at the beginning of the fourth quarter to bring Sky View within three at 30-27. He later closed the gap to just two points after grabbing a defensive rebound, driving the length of the floor and banking in a layup that pulled Sky View within 31-29.
But it was the Mustangs' Kuresa who drilled all but one of his free throws down the stretch and kept his team out in front as Mountain Crest completed the win.