MHS only Sanpete school to advance in state playoffs
By Matt Harris
OREM—Coming out of the gate in the first round of the playoffs, Manti boys hoops saved its offense for a rainy day.
The Templars stifled Grantsville, 59-40, in a relatively low-scoring game by Manti’s standards. Manti, only having scored below 60 points four times all season, moved to 3-1 in those contests.
The first quarter told clearly how the Cowboys and Templars wanted to play—fast. Both teams played with a high pace, but had trouble executing at the rim. Senior Adam Huff finished the first quarter with all eight of Manti’s points, hitting two 3’s.
Huff wasn’t letting up in the second quarter, maintaining the lead over Grantsville by scoring Manti’s first 13 points of the game. Manti broke the game somewhat open when Dallin Cox caught a fast break for a layup, the first non-Huff points, and sophomore Grady Thompson stole the ensuing possession for two more points, pushing out a 17-12 lead. Mason Thompson got on the board with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
After the first half ended with a 21-18 Manti lead, it took all of 32 seconds for the Templars to break the game open. Travis Thomson nailed a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half, and the Templars stole the inbounds pass from Grantsville, found Grady Thompson on the arc, and Grady buried another 3, prompting a panic timeout from the Cowboys.
Thomson took Grantsville’s first possession the other way on a fast break for two points, turning Manti’s three-point lead to double digits within a minute. The Templars switched to full-court defense to discombobulate the Cowboys rhythm, and they successfully held them without a field goal for the first four minutes of the third quarter.
Huff came back alive in the third, relying on his prowess from midrange, and even hit on an impressive cutback which dropped his defender to the floor and left him wide open. The Templars offense couldn’t be stopped as they blew the game open in the third, 40-26, and never looked back.
Huff led all scorers with 26 points, 13 per half, and was backed up by 14 points from Grady.
With the first-round victory wrapped up, Manti faces a tough test against Region 14 champion Providence Hall. The Patriots put spectators on notice when they dismantled San Juan, 79-55.
Providence Hall will have arguably the best player on the court, Marcus Sherwood, when Manti faces them Thursday Feb. 21 at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield for the 3A quarterfinals. Sherwood is a top 3-point scorer and the top rebounder in 3A hoops, averaging a double-double with 21.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.
Manti may still look to be the favored in this matchup, however, as the Patriots have lost games to South Summit and Grand this year. Manti went 3-0 against those teams this year. If the Templars win, they will face the winner of South Sevier vs Morgan, potentially setting a playoff rematch of last year’s title game against the Rams.