Templar beats Spartans, Patriots, now first in region
By Matt Harris
MANTI—The Templars are peaking at a wonderful time, and it looks all too familiar.
The Manti boys’ basketball team picked up statement wins over region Emery and independent American Heritage, persevering over the Spartans in overtime, 85-76, and thumping the Patriots (no one ever gets to say that) by a score of 87-47.
The Templars now have a seven-game winning streak and stand atop Region 15 with two games to go.
“It is a familiar and fun feeling to see all the hard work the players have put in to be performing at a high level at the end of the season,” Head Coach Devin Shakespear said. “Each group of players is unique and has different ups and downs, but this group works each day and wants to be better every day. It is fun to be a part of.”
The Spartans gave the Templars all they could handle last week. After the first quarter ended 22-21 in Manti’s favor, Emery came out with defensive intensity and suffocated Manti’s offense, holding them to five points in the second quarter and ending the half with a six-point Spartan lead.
Manti chipped away at Emery the entire second half and tied it up at 69 apiece at the end of regulation.
“I felt very confident going into overtime,” Shakespear said, “and I got that feeling from our guys. They are in great shape, and I always am excited for an overtime opportunity. I felt they were able to show a lot of physical and mental toughness.”
With momentum going into the extra period, the Templars blew away Emery in the final minutes, outscoring them 16-7 to end the game with the win.
Senior Adam Huff led the Templars with 28 points, while junior Travis Thomson chipped in 19 and sophomore Grady Thompson added 15. The Templars pulled off the win despite a 42-point monster night from Emery’s Kyson Stilson.
Against American Heritage, the Templars played competitive with the Patriots for the first half and led comfortably at halftime, 34-26. In second half, Manti blew the gates off of American Heritage, outscoring them 53-21 the rest of the way. Huff led again with 23 points while senior Dallin Cox and Mason Thompson scored 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The Templars have an interesting slate to close out the season, traveling to face both South Sevier and North Sanpete. South Sevier is just behind Manti, second in Region 15 and could steal away Manti’s top spot with a victory. North Sanpete has underperformed all season but will be desperate for their last chance at a region win in their home finale over their rival.
“We will approach both games like every other and go out with our best effort,” Shakespear said. “Execution is pivotal this time of year, and we hope to put our best effort on the floor this last week.”
The Templars play South Sevier on Feb. 6 and face North Sanpete in the regular season finale on Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.