MANTI—Youthful exuberance began it; mature leadership ended it.
The North Sanpete boys’ basketball team’s senior lineup was a huge difference-maker in last Friday’s hotly contested matchup and the Hawks rallied to beat the rival Manti Templars, 58-51. North Sanpete’s win broke a streak of nine straight Manti wins in the cross-county rivalry series.
The Hawks’ last win over Manti prior to this was in 2015, before Manti had jumped up to 3A and joined regions with the Hawks.
A fantastic game was accompanied by a much-deserved fantastic crowd, arguably the loudest, most energetic game atmosphere of any 3A game this season so far. A full-fledged Hawk student section in blackout attire made the 20-minute drive to watch the winningest team in 3A, complemented by Manti’s heavy home crowd.
The win started North Sanpete at 1-0 in Region 14, a region in which North Sanpete very much looks like an early favorite to claim the title. The Hawks have far and away the best overall record in Region 14 at the moment at 11-2 overall, with 8-6 Juab following behind in the region race.
“I hadn’t really looked into how long it had been [since beating Manti],” North Sanpete Coach Bill Pollock said. “I think the more significant thing for us is that we started off our region play with a win. That was our focus going in. I was proud of the kids for following through.”
For much of the game, particularly the first half, Manti looked primed to pull off the upset in front of their home crowd, but the Hawks owned the second half, going on multiple scoring runs unabated and pulling ahead late in the fourth.
Senior leadership was a factor in North Sanpete’s second-half surge that put them ahead late in the game, Pollock said. “The leadership of kids that have been there before will play out, and you lean on those kids,” Pollock said. “We’ve had some close games this year where those kids have had to come through, and for the most part, they have.”
Senior Landon Bowles led all scorers on the evening with 19 points, most of them in the second half including 8 points in the fourth quarter as his scoring lanes became even wider. Junior Ty Allan backed him up with 12 points. Surprisingly, considering the offensive caliber of the Templars, the Hawks only made a single 3-pointer in the game, courtesy of junior Beau Jacobsen.
Junior Kayson Douglas led the Templars in scoring with 16 points, including two 3-pointers, while junior Christian Hansen scored 14 points. A significant stat for the Templars was that they had nine total assists, a rare occurrence of Manti basketball in having less than 10 total assists.
“It was a well-fought game,” Manti Coach Devin Shakespear said. “Our guys are doing good things. We now must grow up and have that urgency to do those things consistently, along with learning how to stay out of foul trouble.”
Manti began the first quarter hot with an 8-0 run before Bowles finally drew contact to earn free throws and get the Hawks on the board. The two teams then traded baskets to the end of the quarter with Manti holding a 15-8 lead.
In the second quarter, Manti went on a 9-2 run over the first few minutes and led, 24-10, midway through. Although North Sanpete wasn’t keeping up with scoring on the floor, the Hawks played the long game, using their athleticism to drive into the basket and draw contact, leading to several consecutive trips to the free-throw line that kept them in the game and kept Manti out of rhythm.
The Templars led 31-22 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Templars were out to a 37-27 lead, but thanks to numerous fouls softening up the Manti defense, North Sanpete finally found their scoring lanes open for business and capitalized.
The Hawks went on an 11-0 run to take their first lead of the game late in the third. Manti sophomore Kayston Douglas briefly took the lead back with a pump-fake layup as the quarter was ending, a lead that was mercifully prolonged by the buzzer that sounded just a split second before Allan heaved what would be a perfect swish from half-court.
Allan retook the lead on a layup on North Sanpete’s first shot of the fourth quarter, and the Hawks never relinquished it again, breaking the subsequent tie with an and-one layup by senior Andy Mower off his own rebound.
The Hawks schedule tightens up as they prepare for Union on the road this Wednesday, followed by Juab on the road on Friday. They’ll then play their fifth straight game on the road next Wednesday at Delta.
Manti’s overall record moved to 8-7 with a 1-1 region mark. They remain home on Wednesday to play Juab then will travel to Union next Wednesday.