MANTI—Like very few teams this season, the Union Cougars went into the locker room at halftime against the Templars thinking they had a chance.
Eight minutes of play later, the story was very different.
Manti boys’ basketball knocked off a surging Union team, 71-53, last week for their 19th win of the season and their 10th in a row, moving their record to 19-1 overall and still undefeated in Region 14. This season is well on its way to being the best in Manti’s history.
“Our regular season to this point is a result of our players taking daily objectives seriously and improving upon them,” Coach Devin Shakespear said. “It has been a special season watching the players have the desire to get better each day. Averaging 19 assists a game is unheard of in high school and shows the special bond they have and the unselfish basketball they have played all year. It is fun to be part of. This week, we need [to have] two high performances, get healthy, wrap up a spectacular regular season, and be playing our best basketball.”
Manti withstood the intensity of the Cougars as Union kept a defense-oriented game close, 28-20 at halftime. Union’s zone defense kept Manti honest for a half.
Coming out of halftime, Manti caught fire, making nine straight baskets and erupting on the scoreboard for 26 points in only 16 possessions.
“This team is dangerous when they get rolling,” Shakespear said. “It is fun to see what they can do when they break free. Defensively, we did not do a great job the first few possessions, and then we mixed up our defenses some and the ball started moving.”
The result was another Templar blowout victory.
Senior Conner Christiansen led all scorers with 17 points while senior Jordan Blauer put in 14 more. Junior Grady Thompson chipped in 11 points.
The Templars’ fantastic run through the season has been propelled by their excellence at passing and shared scoring. Thompson, Blauer, Christiansen and senior Kevin Clark all have double-figures this season, and senior Travis Thomson is not far behind with 9.2 points per game.
The Templars likely maintained their status at the top of the 3A RPI rankings. Having played Delta last night, they finish their regular season at home against North Sanpete tomorrow night.