Dawson Jensen puts up a shot over the Manti defender.
It was the first game of the day and as it turned out, the best game of the opening day of the Utah State 2-A boys playoffs as the Emery Spartans and the Manti Templars battled evenly throughout the game only to see Emery prevail at the end 64-59. This was a game filled with runs that had fans on both sides tired by the time that the game was over.
After scoring the opening basket of the game, Emery was outscored 12-1 over the next three minutes to trail 12-3 and Emery fans were just a little nervous. Emery then closed out the period on a 21-4 run to lead 24-16 after the quarter. Now it was the Templar fans turn to be anxious.
It was Manti's turn again at the start of the second quarter as the Spartans couldn't buy a basket. Emery was outscored 10-4 to get the Templars within two points at 28-26. The nerves were back to Emery. Emery then closed out the period on a 7-2 run to bring calmness back. Emery led 35-28 at the half.
In the third quarter, it was again all Manti at the beginning as they opened the period on a 11-4 run to tie the score at 39-39. Emery then closed the period with a 6-2 spurt to lead 45-41 after three periods.
In a wild fourth quarter, Emery lost the lead for the first time since the first quarter as Manti reclaimed the lead at 47-45 and then trailed at 49-45, Manti was now feeling it but the Spartans were not through. Emery then went on an 8-0 run to regain the lead at 53-49. The score got to 57-56 only to see Emery win the closing seconds 7-3 and claim the win.
Emery's anemic free throw shooting throughout the game but especially in the final period helped keep the Templars in the game. The Spartans only made 21 of 36 attempts in the game and were only three for six in the closing seconds of the game but they made just enough to grab the win. They may shoot free throws in practice this week.
After the game Coach Todd Jeffs was excited for the win over a very good opponent, "It always seems two really good teams get matched up early. It's too bad that both of us aren't going to Cedar City, but I'm glad it's us going and not them."
Emery was led in scoring in the game by guard Dillon Wilstead with 17 points. Wilstead had 10 of those in the first half. Center Dawson Jensen was right behind with 16 points with nine of those points in the first half. Leading scorer for the season Bailey Faimalo was also in double figures with 12 points but also did a great job of handling the ball throughout the game despite getting himself into foul trouble. Brendon Jorgensen scored eight points, Curtis Mason scored five points and Spencer Labrum and David Dyer each scored three points. Mason's points came at a critical time in the second quarter when Emery couldn't buy a basket.
Jeffs added, "I thought it would be a pretty good battle and I was happy with the way our guys responded."
Emery will now face Waterford this Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. Waterford's victory is an upset as they defeated Enterprise 64-55. Waterford was the fourth place team out of region 16 and made it to the tournament only after defeating Rowland Hall on Wednesday 35-29 in a play-in game. Enterprise was the region champion of their region. Waterford's season record is only 7-14 after the win.