Spartans to play for region championship
|Spartans huddle up before the game.|
When Emery started the season 0-4, I would have had no trouble finding people willing to wage big bucks on Emery playing for the region title. When Emery went 3-9 in the preseason, the number of people willing to wager on that bet would probably have increased, but yet here we are with the Emery Spartans at 6-1 in region play and hosting the Lehi Pioneers this Wednesday with the winner taking region honors. Unbelievable.
Last week, Emery went on the road and snared victories over Delta and North Sanpete. On Wednesday, they defeated Delta 52-44 and on Friday they won 60-57.
Before the North Sanpete game, I talked with Head Coach Todd Jeffs, "We have no pressure tonight because we have second place all locked up. I didn't tell the guys but they've probably figured it out. The kids are energized with the winning we have been doing, they are smiling and enjoying life."
At Delta, Emery got out to a 29-13 halftime lead as they shot well on offense and played good defense to stifle their opponent. Delta, trying to keep third place in the region intact, came out in the third period and returned the favor as they outscored Emery 17-6 to narrow the gap to 35-30. Emery righted the ship in the final quarter, outscored Delta 17-14 and rode out of town with the win and second place in region wrapped up.
Darrin Winn's 18 points led Emery. Joey Bernard and Mike Blomquist each scored 9 points and Davey Justice and Daniel Espino each scored 8 points in the game.
Against the Hawks, Emery started the game with a 5-1 run before North Sanpete scored the next 9. Emery was down by 1 point at the end of the period, 12-11. I know you do not like to hear it but the officiating was horrible. There were no calls and wrong calls and not very many good calls.
The second quarter got no better as the officiating, according to my notes, actually got worse. Emery was outscored in the quarter 21-15 to trail by 7 points at the half. Both coaches jawed with the refs for several minutes on the way to the locker room. Evidently no one was happy.
In the third quarter, Emery turned to the 3-point shot and narrowed the deficit to 4 points at 49-45. Justice, Brad Sitterud and Josh Eden each hit one in the period.
Emery scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to take a 55-49 lead. The Hawks finally hit a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 55-52. At 2:19 left in the game, the Hawks made a pair of free throws to trail by 1 point at 55-54. Emery then hit 5 of 6 free throws to seal the win before the Hawks hit a long shot at the buzzer for the final score.
Emery outscored the Hawks 15-8 in the period as they hit 10 of 15 free throws including 8 in a row by Justice.
Justice led the way with 23 points followed by Blomquist with 11 points and Eden with 10 points. Also scoring for the Spartans were Bernard with 8 points, Winn with 6 points and Sitterud with 3 points.
After the game, Coach Jeffs was asked about sneaking out a win when early on it appeared highly unlikely, he said, "Crazy, that is the only way to describe it. North Sanpete needed this win and yet we won. Just crazy."
Game time is 7 p.m. for the Lehi game this Wednesday at the Spartan Center, be there and good luck Spartans in your quest for the region crown.