Manti girls get to play on Jazz court, but all to Idaho team

Manti’s Kjerstin Birch (No. 32) takes it to the basket, leaving Grand’s Mercedes Zunich (No. 2) in the dust in the Lady Templars’ 18-point loss on Friday, Jan. 5, in Moab.


Manti girls get to play on Jazz

court, but fall to Idaho team


By Lyle Fletcher

Staff writer

Jan. 11, 2018


SALT LAKE CITY—The Lady Templars took advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime by traveling on Dec. 30 to the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City—the home floor of the Utah Jazz.

Even with their high hopes ratcheted up to the roof by the setting, Manti High School’s girls basketball team suffered a 49-30 loss against the Lady Senators of Gooding, Idaho.

The Lady Templars also suffered a five-point loss on Friday, Jan. 5, against Grand and an 18-point loss on Saturday, Jan. 6, against San Juan.

Manti’s coach, Roger Watson, said of the game in Salt Lake City, “As the game started, nerves could be seen on both teams playing at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.”

Gooding jumped out to a 5-0 lead, Manti fought back to tie the game at 5-5 and the quarter ended up tied 9-9.

Watson said his players went very cold in their shooting, and at halftime, the Lady Templars were down by 11 points, 24-13. Along with some costly turnovers, he said some of his players got in foul trouble.

In the third quarter, the Lady Templars came out with a lot of intensity both offensively and defensively, he said, to cut the Lady Senators’ lead to as low as seven in the third quarter, yet the 11-point deficit remained at the end of the quarter, 34-23.

Watson said, “The Lady Templars continued to play hard and battle on each possession throughout the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, they were unable to overcome poor foul shooting (three of 19) and the missed shots on the offensive side.”

Even though they lost by 19 points, 20 Lady Templars had what Watson called “the experience of a lifetime”—playing on the home floor of the Utah Jazz.

Leading scorer for Manti was Auri Squire with seven points. Others who scored in the game include Kassidy Alder, Amie Squire, Katie Larsen, Kjerstin Birch, Kallie Young and Allie Bridges.

Avalin Cook had eight rebounds for Manti.

In addition to playing their own game, the Lady Templars had “a fan experience,” Watson said, seeing the Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers shoot around and then also watching the Jazz beat the Cavaliers 104-101.

After the new year rolled around, the Lady Templars traveled to Moab to play the Lady Red Devils of Grand County for the first Region 15 game on Friday, Jan. 5.

The Lady Templars had a slow start in the game and ended the first quarter down by seven points, 17-10.

Watson said in the second quarter, “The Lady Templars decided to turn up the defensive pressure and began to frustrate the Lady Red Devils.”

Manti closed the gap a great deal in the second quarter by holding Grand to just three points, yet the Lady Templars were still down by two at halftime, 20-18.

Both teams scored well in the third quarter, ending in a 31-31 tie.

After both teams traded baskets and then struggled to score in the fourth quarter, “the last few minutes of the games were exciting,” said Watson.

After the Lady Red Devils took a 41-39 lead, the Lady Templars scored six unanswered points to take a 45-41 lead.

Watson said, “The last couple minutes were back and forth, with each team turning the ball over. The Lady Templars made a few mistakes with turnovers and missed free throws in the last minute of the game.”

However, Grand came out on top by five points, 51-46.

The charity stripe itself was a five-point factor, with Manti going four of 10 from the line and Grand putting in nine of 14.

Cook led Manti scorers with 11 points, with Taylor Chidester putting in 10 and Larsen nine.

The following day, Saturday, Jan. 6, the Lady Templars traveled to San Juan High School to take on the Lady Broncos—another Region 15 game.

Alder started off with a three-pointer, and Larsen made a layup to give the Lady Templars a 5-2 lead, yet this was their last lead of the game.

The Lady Broncos were ahead by 11 in the first quarter and shot well to be ahead by 20 by halftime, 31-11.

Watson said the Lady Templars began to work together to hold the Lady Broncos in the third quarter but were down by two more points, 41-19, after three quarters.

Manti continued to battle both offensively and defensively in the fourth quarter, and the Lady Templars cut four points from their deficit to end down by 18 points at the buzzer, 52-34.

Alder, Cook and Chidester each put in eight for the Lady Templars.

Manti faced the No. 1 team in 3A on Tuesday in Richfield, the Lady Wildcats (score unavailable), and today they face the No. 2 team in 3A, the Lady Spartans of Emery High School in Emery.