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Spartans Rule as Region 8 Champs

Sports Writer

2004-05 Emery High School boy's basketball team.

What an amazing finish! After a start, that could be called dismal at best, the Emery Spartans boy's basketball team capped off an amazing run through region play with a 42-38 victory over the highly favored Lehi Pioneers and claimed the 2004-2005 Region championship.

A giddy Head Coach Todd Jeffs could hardly contain his excitement and pleasure with his team's performance after the game. He could not curtail his smile nor complete a full sentence. He simply said, "Unbelievable! Awesome! I don't know what to think. This is great." He said over and over.

With superb execution of a game plan, the Spartans finished off the Pioneers with a 4-point win. Emery was led by truly outstanding effort by the players on the floor, 24 team rebounds against their taller opponents, only 10 turnovers for the game while picking up six steals and only being called for nine fouls in the entire ballgame. This was team basketball.

Emery started the game in a diamond and one defense, meant to slow down the offense of Lehi's Ben Walker. Walker, at 6'7", is a great shooter from about 10 feet into the basket and Emery tried to limit his opportunities. They succeeded, as he could only muster 14 points in the game while clearly showing frustration at the Emery effort against him. His teammates did not step up their efforts.

After allowing Lehi to score the first 4 points of the game, Emery came back, took the lead at 6-4 and finished the quarter ahead by 4 points and a 15-11 score. Joey Bernard had 6 points in the quarter to lead the way.

Despite losing the second quarter at 10-6, the Spartans went into half time tied at 21-21. More importantly, Emery took Lehi out of their game plan in this period and they never recovered. Brad Sitterud hit a 3-pointer to lead the Spartans.

In the third quarter, Emery continued their effort against Walker, only scoring 2 points, and allowed only 4 points until Lehi hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer. Emery led 32-28.

In the final period, Emery held Lehi scoreless for the first 5:28 to maintain their advantage. Lehi cut the lead to 2 points just once, at 1:04 to play. Emery made 6 of 10 free throws in the final 48 seconds to secure the victory.

Dave Justice led Emery with 14 points including 10 of 12 at the free throw line. Bernard finished with 11 points while Mike Blomquist finished with 10 points. Darrin Winn only had 3 points but contributed a major defensive effort on Walker. Sitterud also had 3 points and Josh Eden had a single point in his first start of the season.

"I couldn't wait to play these guys, I couldn't wait till Monday to start practice. I was excited for the game. This is great," said Jeffs. Emery finished region with a 7-1 record while Lehi finished 6-2. Emery plays Wasatch Tuesday in preparation for hosting a play-off game Friday night against Dixie at 6 p.m. at the Spartan Center.

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