Emery High's boys' basketball team played two home games and won one and lost one during the Christmas break. Ironically, they beat a 4-A team and lost to a 2-A team, albeit the top-ranked 2-A team.
They beat Pleasant Grove 56-50 on Dec. 28 and lost to Manti 64-56 Saturday.
The Spartans started slowly against Pleasant Grove, falling behind the Pirates 17-13 at the end of the first quarter. But Emery came alive in the second quarter. They held PG to four points and went on a 14-0 run over the last 5:20 of the half. Emery blasted out to a 29-21 lead.
The Pirates made it closer in the third quarter, pulling to within four points at 40-36 with one quarter left.
The fourth quarter was a classic, with eight lead changes and one tie before Emery's defense intensified.
Trailing 50-49 Emery went to junior Brandon Hansen who hit a big 3-pointer, gave Emery a lead, forced Pleasant Grove to start fouling, and who became an unexpected hero.
The Pirates didn't make a shot in the last two minutes and even though Emery made only 4-of-10 free throws over that same period, they came away with the win 56-50.
The leading scorers for Emery were Travis Barnett inside with 13 points and Seth Powell outside with 17, including four 3-pointers. Powell and Barnett led the team in rebounds also with five a piece.
Bowie Jeffs contributed 11 points and five assists in the win.
Emery and Manti fought a close game with neither team getting a lead of more than five points throughout the first three quarters.
The Spartans led 17-14 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a last-second 3-pointer by Jeffs, his second of the quarter.
Emery fell behind in the second quarter, but shots by Barnett and Powell kept the Spartans close and Manti led only 27-26 at halftime.
Manti started to pull away in the third quarter but Barnett had four points, and Jeffs and Hansen scored a basket each and Emery was within striking distance trailing 38-34.
Manti went on a 9-2 run and led 47-36 when the substitutes started coming in. Junior Curt Jensen and sophomore Chandler Pearson gave a good effort and helped Emery get closer, but neither their effort nor 12 points in the quarter by Jeffs, nor a career-high 15 rebounds by Hansen could save Emery. The Spartans fell 64-56 and their preseason record fell to 6-6.
Jeffs finished with 23 points, Hansen had 13, and Barnett had 12.
Emery starts region play this week against region favorite Lehi. The game will be at the Spartan Center Friday at 7 p.m. They travel to play Carbon Wednesday next week. The Spartans want an overwhelming amount of support at both games so make plans to follow the team and cheer them to victory.