When that proverbial man said, "It wouldn't be easy" he had to have been talking about last weeks Emery High boy's basketball schedule. First off on Wednesday, Emery hosted Juab and in a highly emotional hard-fought game, the Spartans prevailed 59-49. Emery then traveled to Richfield and one would have thought that this rivalry game between these two teams had never gone away and Emery left town with a 58-46 victory in a game that was much closer than the final score might suggest.
In the first half of the Richfield game, although the score was tied several times, Emery never led. Emery tied the score at 5-5, at 7-7 and at 19-19. After balancing the score at 7-7 in the first quarter, Emery saw Richfield score the last six points of the quarter to lead 13-7. Emery fell behind 18-9 in the second quarter before they bounced back to tie the score.
Nevin Jensen hit a 3-pointer, Colton Barnett hit a pair of free throws, Nevin hit another three and then Nevin hit a jump shot and the score was tied at 19-19. Richfield then hit three inside shots as time ran out to stretch the lead back to six points at 25-19 at the half.
Richfield's smaller floor, the quality of the officiating and the fact that all loose balls seemed to end up in the hands of the Wildcats through three quarters of play seemed to doom the Spartans to their first region loss of the season. When the last wild shot by Richfield went in at the half, it seemed as if fate was not on Emery's side this night.
In the third quarter, Emery was down 26-19 when Mark Guymon hit a 3-point shot to start another Emery run. Derek Tuttle followed with another 3-point shot and Barnett scored a basket and the score was tied again. Emery took their first lead of the game at 32-31 with 3:28 left in the period on another Tuttle 3-pointer. Unfortunately, Richfield went on an 8-2 run to close out the period with the lead at 39-34.
Then it all changed. The fourth quarter belonged to Emery. Nevin opened the scoring with another of his long 3-point shots followed by Tuttle stepping into the passing lane of a Wildcat pass, stealing the ball and driving the length of the court for a lay-up. This tied the score at 39-39. Emery was not through yet. Barnett scored inside and Jensen followed with another 3-point shot to put Emery up by five points. Tanner Procarione then scored twice inside plus got fouled and hit a free throw and Emery completed a 15-0 run to start the final period and led 49-39. Just like that, Emery had turned the game around and won decisively.
Emery was eight for 12 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter and Emery grabbed the win for their eighth straight region victory of the season. With North Sanpete's victory over Juab on Friday, Emery claimed the region 12 title for the 2009-10 season.
Jensen finished with 23 points followed by Guymon with nine points and Tuttle with eight points. Procarione scored seven points, Barnett scored six points and TJ Furner scored five points.
After battling Juab at Juab to a close 41-38 win, Emery played great defense in the first half to keep this game from being close. Emery limited the Wasps to seven first quarter points and to only three second quarter points while scoring 12 points in each period to lead 24-10 at the half.
Emery scored the first fivepoints of the second half to lead 29-10 and then stretched the lead to 21 points at 37-16. Juab refused to rollover and they outscored Emery in the final minutes of the third quarter 9-2 and trailed 39-23.
Juab continued their full-court press in fourth quarter and that bothered the Spartans for a couple of minutes. Juab forced turnovers and then the Wasps also shot the ball well off those turnovers and they narrowed the deficit to 48-40 to put the Emery fans on edge just a little. Emery answered every Juab shot after this to grab the win.
Jensen led the way in this game with 27 points and also had three steals in the game. Procarione scored 11 points, had eight rebounds and came up with two steals. Barnett scored eight points, had eight rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Guymon scored eight points, dished out four assists and also had four rebounds. Tuttle scored three points and Fortner scored two points. Fortner also had three rebounds and two blocked shots.
Nevin Jensen was the Salt Lake Tribune 3-A player of the week the previous week. With his play this week, he may deserve it again.
Emery now hosts Manti on Wednesday night and closes out region play at Delta this Friday night.
Emery will play Park City on Monday night in the Spartan Center to keep fresh as state play-offs start the following weekend.
The boys will have a home play-off game on Feb. 20 and the girls will play at home on Feb. 19 if they clinch the region title or take second. If they end up in third they will travel.
"Great win" was the first words out of Coach Steven Gordon's mouth last Thursday night after his Emery High Lady Spartans defeated the Richfield Wildcats 50-40 at the Spartan Center. The win avenged the only loss of the season for Emery, an earlier 1-points overtime defeat in Richfield. Emery is now 17-1 this season.
While some fans left thinking that neither team played particularly well, I left with the impression that this was a good game between two premier defensive squads that limited the options of the other's offense.
Emery took their first lead of the game at 7-5 after Richfield had grabbed the early advantage. Emery eventually led at 13-7 and then at 16-11 at the end of the first quarter. Emery pulled away a little in the second quarter when they led 21-11 but at this point Abbie Kay went to the bench after picking up her second foul. Richfield scored six unanswered points over the next three minutes to tighten the score at 21-17. Emery scored the last four points of the half to lead 25-17. Abbie had eight points in the first half; Taylor Mann added seven points and Jessica Murray hit two 3-pointers to finish with six points.
Emery started the third quarter with a turnover, which led to an easy basket by Richfield, and then another turnover as the Cats outscored Emery 8-2 to start the second half. The third quarter ended with Emery up 34-32 but with the fans quite on edge and nervous.
Richfield tied the score at 34-34 and it stayed that way until Jenni Stinson scored to give Emery a two point lead at 36-34. With 3:53 left in the game, Abbie Kay scored and the Spartans led 38-34. After a made Richfield free throw, Blayr Jeffs scored for Emery followed by Taylor Mann and Emery led 42-35 with 2:45 left in the game. The fans were breathing easier.
Taylor then scored again and Emery, after going on a 10-3 run to start the quarter, led 44-35. Richfield added a late 3-point shot and a pair of free throws but Emery added two free throws by Abbie and two more by Jessica and a late steal and a lay-up by Blayr and Emery had the win.
Both Abbie Kay and Taylor Mann finished with 15 points in the game and each also finished with 10 rebounds. Taylor also had five blocked shots in the game. Also scoring were Jessica Murray with eight points, Jenni Stinson and Blayr Jeffs with four points each and Tayler Jewkes and Brooke Jensen with two points each.
Coach Gordon added this to his team after the game, "Good job, ladies. That was an excellent effort and everybody laid it on the line tonight. We are now one step closer to one of our goals, to be region champs. That was a great win."
The Lady Spartans also played Juab last week and came away with a relatively easy 66-39 win over the Wasps. Even though the final score had Emery winning by 27 points, Emery only led 25-21 at the half.
Emery came out of the locker room with a renewed enthusiasm to play defense. The Spartans limited the Wasps to two second half field goals, on to start their scoring in the third quarter and the other as the game came to a close.
Emery won the third period 24-9 and the final period 17-9 with several of the younger girls playing.
Abbie led the way with 19 points on 70 percent shooting, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists. Taylor Mann scored 17 points on 72 percent shooting, had six rebounds and three blocked shots. Jessica Murray also finished in double figures with 10 points and had seven rebounds and five assists.
Tayler Jewkes and Blayr Jeffs each scored seven points, Brooke Jensen scored three points, Markette Tanner scored two points and Jeridi Price scored a point.
Emery closes out region play with two games this week. Emery will travel to Manti Tuesday night and then will host Delta this Thursday night. Emery snuck by Delta at Delta but Delta came back to defeat Richfield so right now, the region top teams are in a tight race for first. Emery has one region loss and Delta and Richfield each have two region losses. If Emery wins out, they will be the region 12 champions this year.