Defense propels Lady Spartans to playoff win
It is often said that offense wins games and defense wins titles and this Emery High Lady Spartan basketball team could be successful because they do both pretty well. Emery defeated Grantsville in the first round of the 3-A state tournament 55-37 because of defense.
The first half of the ballgame was a seesaw affair with one team easily scoring and then the other. Defense did not seem to be present on either side of the floor. In the first quarter there were eight lead changes and three ties, as it appeared we were going to watch an offensive shootout this night. Emery led 16-14 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same, as Emery and Grantsville seemed to match basket for basket. Emery led 31-27 at the half but one was not comfortable with that lead.
During timeouts in the first half, Coach Steven Gordon encouraged his players to "play defense, you got to go, get after your man" and "we want to pound the ball inside." This advice worked in the second half.
In the second half, Emery quickly put a cushion between them and Grantsville, they got the ball inside to Taylor Mann and scored six quick points to open up a double-digit lead at 37-27 with only a minute gone in the second half.
But it was defense that propelled the Spartan team. Emery held Grantsville to only two third quarter points, and those two came on free throws, as they opened up a 15-point lead by the end of the quarter.
Markette Tanner and Jenni Stinson were absolutely awesome in the second half at defending the best player on the Grantsville team. Kelsi Wells, a 5'10" point guard, scored eight points in the first half and guided her team to several easy scores. In the second half, she did score six points but she earned every single one of them and Markette and Jenni made her work extra hard trying to find any success. Markette and Jenni kept her from involving her team in the offense and basically shut down the Cowboy offense as they only scored 10 points in the entire second half.
In fact, a highlight of the game came at the end of the third quarter when Wells wanted to get off a shot and Stinson, at all of 5'2" according to the game program, reached out and blocked her shot. The crowd cheered.
In the fourth quarter, Emery sealed the victory when Abbie Kay stole a Grantsville pass and went down and scored followed by Kay getting an offensive rebound and scoring again. Taylor Mann then followed up with two baskets inside and Emery had what appeared to be an easy win.
Kay led the team with 18 points including seven in the first quarter that helped keep pace with the Grantsville team. Abbie also had nine rebounds and a blocked shot in the game. Mann scored 14 points, pulled down eight rebounds and blocked three shots. Jessica Murray scored 11 points, had five steals and four assists in the game. Tayler Jewkes scored seven points and Tanner scored five points.
After the game coach Gordon talked to his team, "Great second half, way to get after them. We were timid in the first half but that was a good effort the second half. We pounded the ball into Taylor (Mann) and they couldn't stop us. Great job, good win." He then reminded his team "from here on out, d(efense) will win ballgames."
Earlier in the week, Emery hosted Wasatch in their final non-region game of the season, in a game that was a rematch of the championship game a year ago. Emery prevailed over the Wasps 47-34.
Emery led 11-5 after the first quarter, 26-14 at the half, 40-25 after three periods enroute to the comfortable win. Mann led the way with 22 points, 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and a steal. Kay scored nine points and had four rebounds and four steals. Brooke Jensen scored seven points, Murray scored three points and Jewkes, Stinson and Tanner each scored two points.
In other opening games of the 3-A girls tournament last Friday, Richfield ousted fourth ranked Judge Memorial, Juab ousted top-ranked Morgan, Carbon went south and ousted Desert Hills, Union defeated Cedar, Canyon View defeated Park City, Wasatch defeated Ben Lomond and Juan Diego edged by Delta.
The Lady Spartans will play Union High Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Utah Valley University. Union is 20-1 this season with their only loss being a 1-pointer against Wasatch. Emery is now 21-1. Richfield has the next best 3-A record at 19-3.