Ogden • Mountain Crest coach Gordon Buchmiller delivered a crisp reminder of defense to his team Thursday afternoon.
Mountain Crest's 52-47 win over Herriman in a Class 4A state quarterfinal wasn't pretty or aesthetically pleasing by any means. But the Mustangs grinded their way into the state semifinals.
There were times where baskets were difficult to come by. Statistically, the game was even in most categories. But winning for Mountain Crest came down to defending, and boy did it defend in the second half.
"We were certainly playing hard in the first half, but we weren't playing smart at all on that end," Buchmiller said. "I had to remind the guys that they needed to be in a defensive stance on every possession. It was like we needed to go back to the first day of practice."
Buchmiller's reminder proved perfect.
Mountain Crest advanced to Friday's Class 4A semifinal because the defense limited Herriman to four points in the third quarter. It turned a 28-26 halftime into a 36-28 advantage during that span.
In doing so, the bevy of experienced Mountain Crest players did their thing. Faimafil Laulu-Pututau scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds. Tyler Crosbie scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out five assists. Point guard Eddy Hall scored 10 points, handed out five assists and snared four rebounds.
Hall went a long way toward locking down the game with his performance at the free-throw line. With the outcome very much hanging in the balance, Hall went 8 of 9 from the stripe in the waning minutes. As a result, the lead never slipped below four points.
Z Arima led Herriman with 16 points to keep his team in it with timely drives to the hoop.
"Coach told us that we have to battle and scrap on every play," Hall said. "Everyone knows what's at stake, and everyone is going to play hard on each possession. A lot of us have been here before, and we knew that Herriman is a good team. We had to finish things out. Nothing was going to be handed to us."