Manti Templars edge out South Summit 59-57
By Matt Harris
MANTI—The Manti boys’ basketball team passed their biggest test of the season to date with a nail-biting win over South Summit, as part of a 2-0 week.
The Templars took rival Gunnison Valley to the cleaners, 70-39, last Tuesday, in a game that saw ten different Manti players score, with three of them in double figures. Manti led by as much as 41 points in the third quarter. Head Coach Devin Shakespear said that Manti’s schedule had the Templars “more prepared going into that game.”
Last Thursday, Manti took on South Summit, beating them in a closely fought contest, 59-57. South Summit entered the matchup with an identical 5-1 record as the Templars.
Manti took control early, getting good shots outside the arc and establishing their offense for a big advantage.
After the first half went Manti’s way, the Templars had a 33-21 lead over South Summit. The Wildcats turned up the heat on Manti at the beginning of the second half and came out firing with a 12-2 run, cutting their lead to 35-33 and holding them without a field goal for most of the third quarter with suffocating defense.
Junior Travis Thomson rose to the occasion and stopped South Summit’s momentum with a bucket and foul. After that, Manti still had trouble staving off the determined Wildcats, who closed the gap to a one-possession with under three minutes remaining, 52-51, on a three pointer. The Wildcats took their first lead of the game on a layup by South Summit’s Gabe Harry, 53-52.
Once again, Thompson had seen enough and took the ensuing possession straight to the rack for another bucket and foul. But South Summit reclaimed the lead again on the next possession, 55-54. With 1:13 remaining, two erratic possessions led to a foul on the floor, and South Summit took their extra possession to the hoop for another lead, 57-56. Manti’s Connor Christiansen nailed two free throws in the clutch to reclaim the Templar’s lead.
South Summit had the final possession, but bricked a three as time expired, and Manti survived the heavyweight bout with the Wildcats.
“We had a great start,” Shakespear said. “They do play really, really, great defense…it’s a game of runs, they’re gonna make a push at some point.”
Despite Grady Thompson, Travis Thomson, Adam Huff and Connor Christiansen all scoring in double figures, the Templars didn’t shoot great in the second half, which Shakespear said led to better inside defense for South Summit.
With his 13 points, Thomson turned some heads with his ability to quiet the hostile crowds when Manti needed it most. “In times of need,” Shakespear said, “Travis, it’s really hard to stop him. He’s got a knack for feeling it. When he feels a need to get something done, he usually does it.”
Upcoming, Manti takes part in the Coach Walker Memorial Holiday Classic with games against Hurricane, Logan, and Roy from Thursday to Saturday. Region play starts Wednesday, Jan. 2 against Richfield.