BOUNTIFUL Earning a victory in Bountiful's home gym has become a nearly impossible task during Ben Aird's four years with the Braves. Even when an opponent thinks it owns a surefire winning strategy, something inevitably backfires.
Mountain Crest became the latest team to suffer such a fate. The Mustangs did an excellent job containing Aird for four quarters, only to get burned by his supporting cast in the final minute.
Jordan Maxwell fed his brother Chris for the go-ahead three-pointer with 46 seconds left and followed with an old-fashioned three-point play off a steal by Sean Carey 19 seconds later to lift Bountiful past Mountain Crest 63-55 on Friday night.
The Braves improved to 7-1 in Region 5 and remain a game ahead of Woods Cross for first place. Staying there required much more drama than they wanted to experience.
"I never wanted it to be that close," said Jordan Maxwell, who finished with 19 points and six assists. "But everybody is fighting for their lives in this region right now."
Chris Maxwell's three-pointer helped Bountiful survive a late rally by Mountain Crest. The Mustangs trailed 44-34, following a layup Aird to open the fourth quarter, when Riley Crosbie started flinging up shots all over the court.
Crosbie drove to the basket for layup and followed up a missed free throw with a three-pointer to cut the lead to five. Aird and Carey each scored a basket to make it 48-41. But Crosbie answered right back, drilling a pair of three-pointers to get Mountain Crest to within one at 49-48 with 3:35 left.
Bountiful applied all kinds of defensive pressure on the senior forward who scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Nothing seemed to work.
"We had hands up in his face and he's still knocking them down," Jordan Maxwell said. "He did what he's going to do. He's going to knock down shots whether you're in his face or not."
Chandler Smith picked up where Crosbie left off, hitting two free throws and scoring on a three-point play to put the Mustangs up 53-52. Mountain Crest held onto the lead going into the final minute when the Maxwell brothers proved they were good to the last shot.
Bountiful anticipated that the Mustangs would focus tons of attention on stopping Aird after watching tape of them shutting down Sky View center Jordan Stone last week.
The remaining starters used that strategy to their advantage. Travis Parrish attacked from every angle on his way to 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Sean Carey dominated in the post finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds."We've been pretty balanced for the last four or five games," Braves coach Mike Maxwell said. "That's a trademark of this team. It's not just Ben Aird. Obviously, he gets the lion's share of the credit. But these other kids are pretty good players."