HYRUM — On those nights when your shooting can sometimes seem almost as cold as a wintry evening in Cache Valley, the best offense is always a good defense.
Mountain Crest employed that sage advice to its full advantage Friday night in a Region 5 boys basketball battle with Roy, as the Mustangs harassed the Royals inside, outside and all around the court on their way to a 58-46 victory that vaulted them into the early-season league lead.
Senior guard Tyler Crosbie scored 19 points and senior forward Faimafili Laulu-Pututau added 17 more as the Mustangs improved to 2-0 in Region 5 and 8-4 overall.
After playing to a 27-all standoff at halftime, Mountain Crest stepped up its defensive effort and outscored the visitors 31-19 in the second half en route to its fifth straight win.
"We mixed up our defense a lot and put them in uncomfortable situations, and we tried to get up and down the floor as fast as we could," said Crosbie, who hit three 3-pointers and was 6 of 6 from the foul line. "This Roy team is a great team and (junior big man Brekkott) Chapman is a D-I player and they'd won seven in a row, so that's a great win for us. We knew they were a good team and expected a dogfight out of them. Fortunately, we hustled more and came out on top.
"On any given night, any of us can go off. All of us are capable of that, and tonight was my night, I guess."
Senior forward Tanner Knowles also finished in double figures for Mountain Crest with 10 points. Sophomore big man Tanner Kirby scored the Mustangs' first six points and wound up with eight on the night. And senior guards Eddy Hall and Jamison Webb also played vital roles in the victory.
In the process, the 'Stangs snapped Roy's seven-game winning streak and dropped the Royals to 1-1 in league play and 10-4 on the season.
Senior guard Jesse Wayment scored Roy's first eight points and wound up with 11 in the first quarter on his way to a game-high total of 23. Senior forward David Hadley had nine points, but Chapman, who came in averaging 20 points per game, was frustrated by Mountain Crest's aggressive defensive tactics and wound up with just nine points before fouling out with almost four minutes remaining.
"We just had a game plan prepared and we knew what Chapman could do and we knew how they played and how he played and we just attacked it more or less," Pututau said. "We tried to keep him out of the paint and make sure he could not play his game and make him play the way we wanted him to play. I think because of the way we played our game and were playing our 'D,' we frustrated him a little bit. Our game plan worked, I guess."
Yes, you could definitely say that. And it was the Mustangs' tenacious defensive effort that made the difference.
"Obviously you've got to game plan to stop Chapman with the kind of caliber player that he is," Mountain Crest coach Graydon Buchmiller said. "Chapman wasn't able to get in a rhythm in that first half and kind of pressed things a little bit early on in the third period. But he's a heckuva scorer and we knew that he would score. You've got to try and push him off the block because he's a very tough player and not allow him to get things in rhythm.
"He's still a heckuva player and some of the things he was doing were just incredible, even with some double teams.
"Tyler (Crosbie) plays hard and is a solid guard for us, and Tyler, Eddy and Mo (Pututau) have played a lot of ball together growing up, and it's just nice to have other kids step up and contribute and we'll look for those guys to continue that.
"We've talked about what each game means," Buchmiller said. "It's just one more step to our ultimate goal, and we treat each game like it's the biggest game of the year. And each one is a building block toward the next one, and we just want to try and improve each game so that we're reaching our peak going into the state tournament."
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