Templars go 2-2 at Coach
Walker Holiday Classic
By Matt Harris
MANTI—Depth, not talent, is what often separates the big schools from the small schools in terms of athletic competition, something Coach Devin Shakespear became personally familiar with last week.
Manti boys’ basketball team went 2-2 last week with three games in the Coach Walker Holiday Classic in St. George. They prevailed over North Sanpete, 71-67, last Wednesday and knocked off 4A Pine View, 60-45, in the first game of the Classic. After that, the Templars lost to Crimson Cliffs, 87-70, and Snow Canyon, 61-53, losing consecutive regular season games for the first time since January 2019.
Despite playing far more powerful 4A competition, the Templars primarily stayed close with Crimson Cliffs and Snow Canyon, falling away in the fourth quarter of both games.
“Our rotations aren’t quite where we need them, and our depth isn’t quite where we need it,” Shakespear said. He wasn’t necessarily too disappointed with the result.
“We were pleased overall,” Shakespear said. “I think a couple losses are ok as long as guys are able to learn from them, and I think those are really good ‘learning losses’ against really good teams.”
Prior to the losses, the Templars prevailed in a defensive battle against Pine View leading the Panthers by as much as 20 in the first half before they fought back in the third quarter. Senior Austin Cox let the effort with three 3-pointers as part of 13 points, and senior Grady Thompson scored another 13 points. Seniors Tanner Justesen and Trace Boggess each scored 10 points.
Manti’s free throw shooting was also the best of the season as they collectively made 14 of 17 from the line.
Against Crimson Cliffs, the Templars struggled to contain the hot shooting of Mustangs star Trei Rockhill, who sank eight 3-pointers, mostly in the first half as Manti went into the half with an 8-point deficit. Manti fought back to within 2 points in the third quarter with adjustments on perimeter defense, but the Mustangs pulled far away in the fourth.
Again, Manti impressed from the charity stripe, hitting 11 of 12 from the line. They also hit 11 3-pointers. Thompson led the Templars with 19 points, while Justesen scored 18 and Boggess scored 15.
In a lower-scoring outing against the Warriors, the Templars held a first quarter lead. In the second quarter, foul trouble plagued Manti, primarily against those guarding star Snow Canyon forward Lyman Simmons, who went on to finish with 31 points. The Warriors pulled away in the second quarter and never looked back.
Thompson led the Templars with 15 points, while Boggess scored 12 and Justesen scored 10 points.
Manti’s region schedule begins in earnest this coming week. After having faced Gunnison Valley last Tuesday, they will host Emery this Wednesday. They will travel to face Juab next Tuesday.