It is hard to maintain the lead like that, but I give the credit to them. They were hustling and they did out-hustle us for awhile, and then we jumped back in it and finished it like a team. —Weber's Hayden Schenck
PLEASANT VIEW — When Weber High moved out to a seemingly safe 18-point lead over Mountain Crest late in the third quarter of Friday night's preseason boys basketball game, it looked like the Warriors might coast in from there.
But somebody forgot to tell the visiting Mustangs.
Tyler Crosbie and Faimafili Laulu-Pututau fueled a furious Mountain Crest comeback, and it took some clutch plays down the stretch by Weber's Hayden Schenck, Auston Tesch and Garrett Beckey to give the Warriors a narrow 70-67 win in a hard-fought contest that more closely resembled an intense region matchup than it did the two teams' third non-league game of the young season.
"I give Mountain Crest all the credit," said Schenck, who scored a game-high 30 points — amazingly his lowest point total of the season after going off for 34 and 37 in the Warriors' first two preseason wins. "It is hard to maintain the lead like that, but I give the credit to them. They were hustling and they did out-hustle us for awhile, and then we jumped back in it and finished it like a team.
"It was really good for us for region. That's a good test, late in the game, back and forth, and it turned out we came out with the victory. ... Preseason wins are always good and they get you ready for region, so we've got to keep going hard so we can get ready and prepared for region."
Schenck scored 22 of his points in the first half, when he led Weber to a 49-35 halftime lead. The Warriors then stretched that advantage to 18 points, 55-37, with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter.
That's when Crosbie and the Mustangs mounted their comeback, eventually catching the Warriors at 59 on Pututau's layup with 4:20 to play in the game.
From then on, it was anybody's ballgame, with the score being tied two more times over the next minute and the lead changing hands four times in the final 2:15 before Tesch's basket-and-one gave Weber a 69-67 lead with 37.5 seconds left.
After a Crosbie miss, Beckey pulled down the rebound and was fouled, hitting a free throw to make it a three-point game, 70-67, with 10.6 seconds to go. Crosbie then missed two potential game-tying 3-point attempts in the closing seconds before the final buzzer sounded.
"They played better than us in the third and fourth quarters," Weber head coach Mark Larsen said of the Mustangs. "We came in at the break and all the adrenaline just went away, all the air went out of the building.
"... Crosbie and Pututau carried them, and that's what they do. They've been playing for them for three years, since they were sophomores; they're great, great players, and they carried them when they needed them to. That's what you expect out of your great players.
"Crosbie was a tough cover for us tonight and, fortunately, he missed one at the end, because that could've just as easily gone down. It looked good from where I was sitting. It was just a little long," Larsen said. "He's such a good player. We've been playing against those guys in the summer and he's just a great kid. Their coach (Graydon Buchmiller) does such a great job with their guys and they're gonna win a lot of ballgames."
Beckey finished with a dozen points and a game-high nine rebounds for Weber (3-0), while Mason Miles also hit double digits with 10 points and grabbed six boards. Jaren McKnight added eight points and Tesch scored six off the bench.
Crosbie contributed 25 points, six rebounds and four steals to the Mountain Crest cause, and he scored 18 of those points in an unstoppable 5 1/2-minute stretch that started late in the third quarter and continued until midway through the fourth period.
Pututau added 22 points for the Mustangs, and he scored eight of his points in the final 4:20, including the buckets that tied the score at 59 and 63 and two more baskets after that to momentarily give the visitors a pair of one-point leads at 65-64 and 67-66.
Tanner Knowles was also in double digits for Mountain Crest (2-1) with 15 points and six rebounds. He scored 10 points in the first quarter and all 15 of his points in the first half before smacking his head on the floor and sitting out much of the fourth quarter with concussion-like symptoms.
Coach Larsen admitted that when his team got up by 18 points late in the third period, they may have subconsciously thought the game was over and let up a little bit.
"I think our kids did, too, and that was kind of the problem," he said. "We got a little lax and Crosbie got it going, and like the good player that Crosbie is, he took it upon himself that he was going to make a run by himself and he did. We did force him into taking 25 shots to get his 25 points, but there for awhile I didn't think he was going to miss anything.
"We've got some special kids. Hayden has taken over the leadership role — I don't think anybody questions that — and he made a play, but we had a couple of our other kids make a play, too. Tesch got the layup and a free throw. Jaren made a play even though he made a little mistake there stepping across the (free-throw) line. And Beckey made a free throw. And we're going to have to count on those guys, so it's great experience for them. And then obviously Hayden's going to be our catalyst and he opens up so much for everyone else and we're going to play off that.
"The second half, they did a good job," Larsen said of the Mustangs. "We'll never apologize for a win, whether they're ugly, pretty, whatever, we'll take it. I give Mountain Crest a lot of credit because they could've easily folded up and they came back and kicked out butt in the second half, and we were fortunate enough to make a couple plays from the free-throw line late to hang on, and that's exactly what we did is hung on.
"It felt like a playoff game or a league game to me. That team's not gonna quit; I'm so impressed with that Mountain Crest team, and with our kids, too. Our kids didn't hang their heads; when they needed to they made a play."
Schenck, who's now averaging a whopping 33.7 points a game through three contests, connected on 16-of-19 free throws on his way to another 30-point night. He was 7 of 12 from the field and also had six assists and five steals.
"He does a lot of great things," Larsen said of his 6-foot-3 star senior guard. "He makes everyone a better coach, that's for sure.
"He's aggressive in transition and he doesn't shy away from contact, and he does a great job getting to the free-throw line."
After pouring in 22 first-half points, Schenck credited the Mustangs' defense with making some adjustments, which made things much tougher for him in the second half.
"They played hard-nosed 'D'. ... They doubled me and I tried to get the ball to my teammates to make a play, which they did," Schenck said. "Tesch and Jaren and Garrett made the plays at the end of the game.
"I just try to run our offense and coach says whenever you get a good look, take it and, if not, try to get your teammates open and get them looks. ... And my teammates have been doing a great job."
Schenck wasn't surprised by the way Crosbie got the hot hand in the second half.
"He's a great player," Schenck said. "I've been playing with him since first grade. Me and him played little league together and he's a great player. He's one of those kids that can shoot and you've got to respect him all the time because he can come on whenever. ... That's a good win for us."
Although his team is still undefeated after three games, coach Larsen says there's plenty of room for improvement.
"We're not gonna complain," he said, "but, like probably every 3-0 team in the preseason, they're gonna say we've got a lot to work on."
Like learning how to protect a double-digit lead, for starters.