Manti still getting wins, but suffers first loss of season
By Matt Harris
MONROE—There’s never a great time to lose a game, but some losses are better than others.
For Manti boy’s hoops, last week’s loss against their rival South Sevier, 47-43, won’t hurt as much as a loss in the playoff s next week. But it still hurts to see Manti lose a lot more than just one game.
The Templars had their winning streak halted after seven games and lost a hold on the Region 15 title right at the very end of the regular season. The top spot for the season went to Richfield in the end.
“We played well versus [South Sevier] and had a few chances to take the lead,” Head Coach Devin Shakespear said, “…just could not get that last stop or score we needed. Yes, coming within one win of a region championship hurts, but it does give us fuel and focus us moving into the postseason.”
With the Rams leading by 12 points to start the fourth quarter, the Templars needed some momentum after being outscored in every quarter of the game. Right out of the gate, Grady Thompson knocked down a deep 3-pointer. Manti forced a turnover on the next possession, and Mason Thompson knocked down another three after three offensive boards kept the possession alive. Grady hit again on the next possession from deep, and suddenly the Rams’ 12-point lead became three.
It took all game long for South Sevier’s leading scorer to get going, but Kaetz King finally scored his first points of the game with a 3-pointer to kill the Manti scoring run and go up by 6 points. Mason hit from outside again, and Manti basketball was in full effect. Mason struck again from 3-point land with 2:35 remaining to make it a 1-point game, 38-37, but then King killed the Templars again with another three. Mason would not be denied, hitting another three with 1:43 left to make it 41-40.
Just as the Templars looked primed to steal the win away, South Sevier caught Manti sleeping on defense, finding an open man right below the hoop and taking a wide-open midrange jumper for an easy 4-points. The Templars couldn’t overcome the late defensive lapse as the Rams sealed the victory with a pair of free throws.
Mason led Manti with 14 points, 12 of them coming from his four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Senior Adam Huff also scored in double figures with 10. Defensively, the Templars held King well under his season average with 6 points.
Following the losing effort against the Rams, Manti pitched a solid closer for the regular season, easily taking down North Sanpete, 77-56. The Templars led the Hawks by as much as 27 points at halftime before letting off the gas. Huff led all scorers with 22 points while complemented by 11 points from Grady Thompson and 14 points from junior Travis Thomson.
“We talked all week about how to get a quick start, feeling like that would be a key to this game,” Shakespear said. “They had a big crowd out, and we wanted to take control early.”
The Templars qualified for the 3A playoffs and will face Grantsville on Saturday at Orem High School for the first round.
North Sanpete ended their season 4-17 with a 0-12 region record. In a game that got away from the Hawks in a hurry, Head Coach Cris Hoopes gave his seniors the chance to give their all for North Sanpete one last time. Seniors Wyatt Ison, Ashton Osborne, Alan Oldroyd and Jamal Mayoul led the team in scoring with 12, 11, 10, and 9 points, respectively. Junior and leading scorer Scott Hatch was quiet on the night with only 4 points.