Defense, defense, defense.
Those three words characterize the last three Emery High girls' basketball games.
First, their defense held Canyon View to only 24 points in a 44-24 win Dec 28. Then, they did even better the next day against Uintah, holding the Utes to only 21 points while winning 52-21. Emery faced a tough Cedar High team Friday, but their defense held Cedar to only 35 points and Emery pulled off another win 50-35.
The Spartan defense had other impressive accomplishments in the games: Neither Canyon View nor Uintah scored more than seven points in a quarter and Emery held their opponents to one point, three points, four points, four points, six points, and six points in a quarter.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Emery's defense is that Emery out shot their opponent in each game. Many times the Spartans stole the ball before their opponent could get to half court. Steals, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, loose balls, jump balls, and hustle plays all went Emery's way because of their intensity and hard-nosed play on defense.
That defense really started to show itself in the second quarter of their game with Canyon View.
Trailing 14-13 with 2:35 to go in the half, Emery started really pressuring the ball. The Spartans scored 10 straight points (eight of them by center Cheryl Grant) and gave nothing to the Falcons. Canyon View only got off a couple shot attempts and nothing was even close. Emery led at the half 23-14.
The Lady Spartans didn't let up. They allowed only four points in the third quarter, while Emery scored nineÃ¯Â¿Â½seven of them by Grant.
The Falcons got only one basket in the fourth quarter and Emery pulled away to grab the 44-24 win.
Grant finished the game with 23 points, Jennifer Nielson had 10, and Mackell Huntington scored nine.
The next day Emery got off to an even better start. They held Uintah to one point in the first quarter and dashed out to an 11-1 lead behind the shooting of Holly Bell and Nielson and the inside play of Grant.
Uintah tried to put something together in the second quarter, but Emery extended its lead. Bell continued her hot shooting and scored six points in the quarter. Emery led 24-10 at halftime.
The Spartans had their best quarter of the year in the third quarter. Emery outscored the Utes 21-4 thanks to their defense and the shooting of Grant who scored nine in the quarter. Emery led 45-14 and after that, the teams cleared their benches, but Emery still held the Utes to only seven points to win by 31.
An amazing fact is that Emery scored as many points (21) in the third quarter as Uintah scored the whole game.
Bell finished with 16 points, Grant had 12, and Nielson put in nine.
Emery and Cedar got off to a slow startÃ¯Â¿Â½Emery because of poor shooting, Cedar because they couldn't get a shot off because Emery's defense kept taking the ball away.
Emery managed only seven points, but led by one 7-6.
The Spartans shot much better in the second quarter. They went on a 10-1 run that put them ahead 17-7 and finished the half ahead 20-14.
Both teams shot great in the third quarter but Emery got the better of the deal as Nielson hit two 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the quarter and Emery lengthened its lead to 39-32.
With the game still in doubt, Emery's defense came through again. Cedar scored only three points on three free throws and Emery put together runs of 6-0 and 5-0 to seal the game.
Grant led the team again with 18 points, Nielson had 13, Bell had eight, and Huntington contributed seven.
The Spartans now have a 4-6 record heading into region play this week. But the three wins in a row will give them confidence and their defense can take them just about anywhere if they continue to play with such intensity.
Emery plays at Lehi Thursday in their first region meeting. Their next home game is Jan. 15 against Carbon.