Manti is top five in state, disposing of So. Sevier, 50-45 and Maeser Prep, 81-43
By Matt Harris
MANTI—“It’s beginning to look a lot like” the Templars are a top five team in Utah, regardless of classification.
Manti boys’ basketball, now 7-0 on the season, knocked out South Sevier in a tough game, 50-45, before starting region play in the best way possible—an 81-43 domination of Maeser Prep last Friday, in which senior Conner Christiansen achieved an elusive triple-double, something not often seen in high school basketball.
“This team has gotten there by a lot of hard work and unselfish play,” Coach Devin Shakespear said. “We have five guys averaging double figures, and on any given night, any of them can have 20. The best part is, they are happy for the success of each other as it fits in with our goals and objectives.”
The Templars offense is averaging over 17 assists per game, according to Shakespear. The scoring offense, while averaging 68 points per game, is fourth best in 3A. They also have played arguably the toughest schedule of any 3A team in the state, having beaten Richfield and Morgan, both ranked in the 3A Top 5 by Deseret News.
Manti traded punches with the Rams for an entire first half as South Sevier took a 3-point lead into halftime, 22-19. Manti’s lowest score to end a first half this season has been 19 points.
Coming out of halftime, Manti began to overpower South Sevier, and a breakout night by senior Kevin Clark propelled the Templars to victory.
Clark finished with a game-high 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Senior Travis Thomson notched a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
When Manti visited Maeser Prep, the hosting Lions brought the intensity in the first quarter and forced several turnovers on what Shakespear called a “careless” Templar squad. Maeser Prep got out to a 12-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
All it seemed to do in the long run, however, was make the Templars more motivated. Scoring 20 plus points in each of the next three quarters, Manti notched its highest-scoring game of the season in the easy win.
Four different Templars scored in double figures in the region opener. Christiansen notched a show-stopping stat line of 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Junior Grady Thompson finished with 14 points, senior Jordan Blauer had 13 points and Thomson had another double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The upcoming week will test just how good the Templars really are. Having played Juab last night at home, Manti will pay a visit to St. George to play in the Coach Walker Memorial Holiday Classic.
At the Classic, Manti will face off against three teams, all of them 4A. They will play Crimson Cliffs tonight before getting set for Dixie tomorrow night and Pine View on Saturday night. Both Dixie and Pine View are ranked in Deseret News Top 5 for 4A teams.