Templars fall short, 56-60, in playoff game against Ravens
OREM—Although it was a season-ender, Manti’s state play-in basketball game last Saturday at Orem High against the top seed from Region 14 turned out to be one of the most exciting games of the day.
Taking on the third-ranked Waterford Ravens, Manti fell behind early and trailed by as many as 19 points. Manti opened the fourth period with an 11-1 run to take a 44-40 lead, but only shot three free throws in the final eight minutes compared to 14 by the Ravens to come up short by six. Waterford’s 56-50 win was the closest game of the event and ended Manti’s season.
The Templars struggled to get the ball inside in the early going and settled for long-range shots that didn’t fall. Manti went zero for eight from behind the arc in the first half and didn’t score a bucket until Matt Nelson found an open Mac Stevens in the paint for a layup with ten seconds left in the first quarter.
Manti trailed 17-5 at the first break and didn’t get on the board again until midway through the second quarter. Trailing 24-5, Manti got a much-needed spark when Tanner Rasmussen got a steal and putback bucket at the 4:08 mark. Rasmussen scored eight straight points for the Templars to help shave ten points off the Waterford lead, but Manti still trailed 26-16 at the half.
Nelson hit Manti’s first three-pointer of the game with 4:48 left in the third and the Templars then got a couple of key buckets from Kade Nicholes to cut the Raven’s lead to six at 39-33 going into the fourth quarter.
Manti came out from the break smoking, getting a layup by Stevens. Defensive pressure by Rasmussen and Dylan Wathen forced a Waterford turnover that resulted in a Rasmussen three. He then stepped into a passing lane for a steal and fed Riley Curtis who drained another three. That bucket gave Manti their first lead of the game at 41-39. Rasmussen hit another one from behind the arc, and the Templars were ahead by four.
The Ravens were able to regain their composure and take advantage of free throws to regain the lead and hold on for the win. With five seconds left to play Stevens drained a pull-up jumper from three-point range to end his varsity basketball career and make the final score 56-50.
Although Rasmussen’s two three-pointers were key in the Templar comeback effort, he got most of his team-high 22 points by taking the ball strong to the hoop. Stevens did likewise on his way to 11 points. Nelson finished with seven, Nichols brought some defensive energy to the game when he came off the bench. He scored four points. Curtis hit a three and Corbin Linam hit a pair of free throws.
The loss marks the end of the basketball season for the Templars who finished with an overall record of 9-15 and a region record of 4-6, good enough for a fourth-place berth to the play-ins last weekend.