Emery High Lady Spartans dominate tourney
"Awesome," was one of the first words out of coach Steven Gordon's mouth following the convincing win in the 3-A girl's state championship game last Saturday evening and that word really summed up the whole week for the Lady Spartans.
It was an awesome game, it was an awesome week for an awesome team and it was an awesome effort by the Emery team as they returned home with another championship trophy for the school. Emery avenged two early season defeats at the hands of the Carbon Dinos and defeated their Castle Valley foe 55-42 in the championship game.
Coach Gordon to his team, "Great job ladies, I'm proud of you. Redemption, we didn't know who we were at the start of the season but here we are." It was a great job, three games in three days against three quality teams and three convincing wins for the Spartan team.
To sum it up, senior center Taylor Mann, leading scorer in 3-A this season, was named the tournament MVP. Seniors Brooke Jensen and Jessica Murray and sophomore Blayr Jeffs joined her on the all-tournament team that consisted of six players. Carbon's Tia Pappas and Delta's Katy Diaz were the other two players. All four Emery players finished the tournament with a scoring average in double figures.
The Emery team started the season with three new starters with a tough schedule and it took a while for the team to gel. Emery had six season losses against teams that all made the tournament in Salt Lake City. So after playing a tough schedule in a tough region, the Lady Spartans peaked at the right time and were simply dominant this past week.
Coach Gordon went on, "This is an awesome feeling. These girls played their hearts out, they played unbelievable. This is a great group of girls, it's awesome, I love it."
Emery started the championship game slowly with the Dinos jumping to an 8-1 lead two minutes into the game. It didn't appear being behind early rattled this team at all though. Emery fought back to trail only 10-8 before losing at the end of the first quarter 13-8. Emery finally tied the game at 15-15 on a basket by Mann only to fall behind again at 20-15. With 1:39 left in the half, Emery took their first lead of the game at 21-20 on a basket by Brooke Jensen. Carbon regained the lead at lead at the half 26-23. Jensen had eight points and Mann seven points in that half.
In the second half, Emery gained the lead again at 31-30 on another basket by Jensen with 1:51 left in the quarter. Mann and Jeffs added a basket each and Emery led 35-32 at the end of the period as the Spartans outscored Carbon 12-6 in the quarter. Emery then blew Carbon out in the final period 20-10 to grab the win and the championship. Blayr Jeffs led the Spartans with 11 points in the period as she had Emery's only three-pointers in the game, two, and went five for six at the free throw line.
Emery, it appeared, was much better conditioned than their opponents in the tournament as each team they played appeared to run out of gas in the second half while the Spartans continuously pushed the ball hard all game long and looked good doing it. Morgan, Juab and Carbon all tired in the second halves as Emery kept on playing their style of ball.
In this game, Mann led the way with 18 points, 12 rebounds, five steals, two blocked shots and two assists. Jeffs scored 17 points in the game. Jensen scored 14 points and also had 12 rebounds. Murray scored four points in this game being one of the team leaders in the first two games. Murray also had four steals, three rebounds and two assists.
The final Emery starter is senior Tayler Jewkes. Jewkes did not score as much as the others but Tayler was invaluable with her handling of the ball. Facing pressure throughout the tournament, Jewkes led the team in assists and in steals during the three days. Most importantly, in the championship game Tayler picked up her third foul early in the second half but played the rest of the way foul free to keep Emery on the road to the win.
Emery opened the tournament against a pre-tournament favorite in the Morgan Trojans. Emery led 14-11 after the first quarter and 30-28 at the half. Morgan grabbed the lead in the third quarter at 42-37. Emery scored the first eight points of the final period to grab the lead at 45-42. Morgan did not score until there was 4:23 left in the game. Emery then scored the next five points to lead at 50-44. Emery won the game 57-50 by winning the final period 20-8.
Murray and Mann each scored 17 points in the game with Jensen scoring nine points, Jeffs and Jewkes six points each and Jeridi Price two points. Jensen led the team with 10 rebounds while Jewkes led with six assists.
In game two, Emery dominated region 12 rival Juab and easily won the game 52-33. Emery started the game strong and led after the first quarter 16-5 as Juab found nothing easy at their offensive end of the court. Emery took the second quarter 10-6 and the third quarter 12-8 to easily get the win.
Jeffs led the team with 14 points while Murray and Mann each scored 12 points in the game. Murray's points came on four 3-pointers while Jeffs hit a pair of three's.
Jensen scored nine points, Price scored three points and Whitney Roper scored two points as all dressed Spartan players saw some action.
Jensen pulled down 14 rebounds and Mann pulled down 10 rebounds for Emery. Jewkes and Murray each had three assists while Jewkes led the team with four steals. Mann had three steals.
After the first quarter in the Morgan game, Coach Gordon asked his players to "hit your shots, play good defense, grab rebounds." The players listened in that game and then throughout the tournament to come home Sunday afternoon champions.
A community celebration will be held at the Emery High auditorium at 7 p.m. on March 3 to recognize the Lady Spartans. There will be a program where the players will speak and a slide show. Everyone welcome.