State playoffs begin: Emery boys on road at Wasatch
Despite facing tough odds as last week's basketball action began, the Emery High boy's team never wavered in their belief that they were a team that belonged in the upcoming playoffs. The Manti and Delta High teams were looking to claim the final two region 12 seeds into the state tournament, as they knew that Emery would face the top two teams in the region in their final games this season and would have the toughest road of the three teams.
On Wednesday, Emery faced Richfield, second in the region with a 6-2 record, and used a big second quarter of defense to defeat the Wildcats 60-49. On Friday, Emery looked forward to face the top region team in North Sanpete. The Hawks had a region record of 8-1 and had defeated Emery easily earlier in the season. The Spartans, with strong determination because of the refereeing that had occurred in the earlier game, came out and handed the Hawks their second loss by a score of 82-76. With the second win, Emery claimed the fourth region seed and left Delta and Manti to fight for the final spot.
After the Friday game Coach Todd Jeffs was ecstatic, "You guys are playing the game the way it is supposed to be played. That was a great game and you all played as a team and it showed. That was a great effort."
Senior Ty Benson had a great game against the Hawks.
Benson, who can shoot the lights out from three-point range and can also leap out of the gym, had a special night. Benson finished the game with 40 points as he, like the rest of his teammates, let the game come to them rather than forcing things. Benson, listed at 5'10" in the program, took the ball inside and scored repeatedly over the taller Hawk team.
Ty scored 12 points in the first quarter, 11 points in the second quarter, three points in the third quarter and 14 points in the final period. Ty was 17 of 18 at the free throw line on the night.
The Spartans shined at the free throw line in the game. They finished 34 for 40 on the night, an 85 percent shooting night. In the fourth quarter, when the Hawks were intentionally fouling in hopes of getting back into the game, Emery was 20 for 23, an 87 percent quarter. The team came to play in this game. Benson was eight for eight, Quinn Montgomery was seven for eight, Kash Jewkes was two for two and Kashe Potter was three for five.
Nick Stoddard and Potter were impressive with their rebounding in the game. Each finished the night with eight rebounds despite giving up multiple inches to the much taller North Sanpete team. In fact at the end of the game after Jewkes and Chance Huntington had exited due to fouling out, Emery played four guys listed at five foot something and Stoddard listed at 6'2" against a team that stood 6'9", 6'7", 6'5" and 6'3" and still outplayed the taller team with their execution and hustle. Emery scored in their final nine possessions of the game as they kept the Hawks at bay.
Potter scored 12 points in the game, Montgomery scored nine points, Jewkes scored eight points, Huntington scored five points, Stoddard scored four points and Dallon Cologie and Gage Bell scored two points each. Emery played well throughout the game as they won the scoring battle in three of the four periods and tied the fourth.
Against Richfield, Kashe Potter was determined this night to help the Spartans get the win. Potter, when Emery needed scoring because the Wildcats were tightly hounding Benson in the game, stepped up and hit four first half 3-pointers to keep Emery in the lead. He had three in the second period almost back to back to excite the home crowd.
The second quarter was also an outstanding period for Emery defensively as they held Richfield to four points in the period while they scored 16 to go to halftime leading 30-15. Emery's biggest lead of the game was at 39-18 in the third quarter before the Richfield team narrowed the gap to the final score.
Potter finished the game with 18 points to lead the Spartans in this game. Potter is playing his best ball of the season and is giving the Spartans another scorer that the opposition will have to defend. Benson, despite the harassment finished the game with 13 points and Jewkes also finished in double figures with 12 points. Stoddard had nine first half points, Montgomery scored six points and Bell hit a pair of free throws for two points.
Emery will have a non-region game Tuesday night against Park City in Park City, before traveling to Wasatch on Friday to play the top-ranked Wasp team in the first round of the 3-A state play-offs. Emery, playing their best ball of the season right now, could surprise the unsuspecting Wasps with how good they really are.