For the first time in its three-year history, The Coal Country Classic at the Spartan Center crowned a champion other than the host Emery Spartans. Emery lost to highly ranked and undefeated Morgan 56-49 Saturday.
The Spartans beat Park City 57-38 Friday to have a chance to face the Trojans in the championship match. Morgan dispatched Snow Canyon 87-70 to claim their spot in the finals.
Emery played the Trojans tough, but a couple of plays that went Morgan's way were the difference at the end.
Seth Powell hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, his third pulling Emery to within four at 47-43 with just 2:29 remaining. But two turnovers by the Spartans led to four straight points by the Trojans and Emery trailed 51-43.
The nail in Emery's coffin came after Bowie Jeffs made a couple of free throws and Emery trailed 51-45. With 1:12 left a Morgan player scored a basket and was fouled. The three-point play put Emery down by nine and put the game out of reach.
Emery was never intimidated by Morgan's high ranking. Jeffs and Travis Barnett, who were later named to the all-tournament team, got Emery off to a good start. Jeffs scored four points in the first quarter, Barnett scored three, and Pete Nielson hit a 3-pointer. The game was tied at 10 at the end of the first quarter.
The Spartans managed only four points in the second quarter and Morgan raced to a 21-14 lead at halftime.
Emery fought back in the third quarter with Barnett and Willie Lester hitting big baskets. The Spartans even grabbed the lead with 30 seconds left in the third quarter 31-30. But Morgan raced ahead and got the breaks toward the end.
Barnett and Jeffs each scored 15 points. Jeffs also collected five rebounds and dished out six assists even after leading the junior varsity team to a championship win hours earlier. Barnett had 10 rebounds and blocked three shots to lead the Spartans in both categories.
Powell scored nine points, Lester had seven, and Nielson scored three.
Friday the Spartans played near-flawless defense against Park City and smashed the Miners 57-38. Park City only had 22 points at the start of the fourth quarter, not even being able to get more than 10 points in any of the first three quarters.
Meanwhile, Jeffs hit three 3-pointers to start the game and didn't stop until he nailed 24 points and got seven rebounds. Barnett also played as big as his 6'7" height. He had 16 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocked shots. Powell also played well, scoring 15 points and giving out three assists.
The championship game was Emery's third this week. The Spartans also played and lost to Spanish Fork earlier in the week 64-57. Powell led Emery in scoring against the Dons with 23 points, while Barnett had 11, Jeffs had nine, and Brandon Hansen had seven.
Emery's record is now 2-6. The Spartans play at Union Wednesday and return home to play Tooele on Friday. Region competition begins Jan. 11.