GIBSONTON — East Bay's run to the Class 7A football region semifinals kept last year's leading scorer on the basketball team, Anton Crutcher, off the court until last week.
He started slowly, scoring only 28 points combined in his first three games.
Until Wednesday night.
"He's trying to get into a rhythm," coach Billy Teeden said. "He found it tonight."
Crutcher scored 28 and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 64-56 home victory over previously unbeaten Lennard.
Crutcher, a cornerback/receiver still readjusting to forward, dominated from the start. With the Longhorns locked in on East Bay's Division I-bound guard, Jonathan Jean, Crutcher had 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in the first half to help the Indians (6-1) jump out to a 35-20 lead.
"When they take away Jon, someone's got to step up," Teeden said. "And he did."
Lennard (6-1) trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half before starting a comeback.
The Longhorns forced 22 turnovers in the final three quarters and fueled their run with fastbreak points. Lennard wing Diontae Johnson scored 12 of his team-high 21 in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer from the elbow that trimmed the deficit to five and capped an 11-2 run.
Lennard senior Robert Gant drove for a baseline layup that tied the game at 52 midway through the fourth quarter. Crutcher answered with a layup before Caelen Watts' putback tied the game at 54.
"Give credit to Lennard," Teeden said. "Those guys did not quit."
Neither did Crutcher.
The 6-foot-3 senior's three-point play 30 seconds later put the Indians ahead for good. He added a fastbreak dunk, his second of the night, and four free throws in the closing minute to seal East Bay's fifth consecutive victory.
Jean finished with a season-low 10 points, and Marwan Williams chipped in 10 points for the Indians.
Watts added 14 points for Lennard.
Times staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.