MANTI—Manti High’s first shot at hosting a tournament was a wild success, and the Templars had successes of their own as well.
The Manti boys’ basketball team pulled out a pair of dramatic wins, as they hosted the I-Four Media Invitational Tournament and they prevailed in a shootout win over Ogden, 74-71, last Wednesday before rallying for a huge comeback win over South Summit in overtime, 60-58, last Thursday. The wins pushed Manti’s record to 4-1 on the season as they entered the Deseret News Top 5 rankings in 3A last week, checking in at the fifth spot.
Demonstrating tenacity and toughness unexpected in such a young squad, Coach Devin Shakespear specially credited the small crop of three senior on this year’s team for their intangible leadership to win this last week.
“Our seniors are not scoring a lot of points,” Shakespear said, “but they are creating a productive environment in practice and game night, and I am pleased with their leadership.”
Against Ogden, leadership was crucial to weathering the storm as the visiting Tigers threw a variety of challenges the Templars’ way, from high-speed guards to full-court defense in the clutch, to the not-so-small matter of a seven-foot senior center.
Ogden got a solid first punch in, jumping out to a 14-6 lead midway through the first quarter, but thanks to some physicality on offense and a deep bench, Manti responded with an 18-3 run to go ahead by seven points at the end of the quarter.
Trading tit for tat throughout the second and third quarters, Manti got out to a 53-46 lead at the start of the fourth quarter and pushed it to a nine-point lead, 69-60, with only a couple minutes left.
Then, Ogden turned the defense up to boiling. Playing suffocating full-court sets and capitalizing on a plethora of late miscues, Ogden made it a one-point game, 72-71, with 10 seconds left.
Junior Larsen Pogrozewski coolly sank a pair of free throws to extend their short lead, followed by a final heroic shot attempt at the top of the key by Ogden that clanked off while the guard fell to the ground, leading a furious Ogden head coach to rush to the center of the court yelling for the foul after time expired. It was for naught, however, as Manti sealed the win.
Shakespear went all the way to the end of his bench in the highly aerobic affair as 11 different plays scored for the Templars. Pogroszewski led with 17 points, while junior Kayson Douglas and sophomore Reggie Frischknecht scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.
South Summit proved to be a stiffer test in terms of scoring the ball than the Tigers. After a tough first half, Manti led at halftime, 27-25. The third quarter was all South Summit as the Wildcats exploited the 2-3 zone defense of the Templars with several makes from midrange, while Manti went ice-cold from the field. The Wildcats outscored Manti, 17-6, in the third for a big lead and led by as much as 12 before the end of the quarter.
Immediately as the fourth quarter began, Manti came back to life and went on a 9-0 run in the first two minutes to erase South Summit’s lead and tie up the game. As the two teams exchanged baskets, both teams fought to a stalemate at the end of regulation, 52-52.
With both teams heavily in the double-bonus, overtime became littler more than a free throw battle, one that Manti won convincingly. The Templars sported a 61-57 lead with about 10 seconds remaining and forced a turnover. Knowing that fouling them again was a futile measure for the Wildcats, Manti went untouched to victory.
Frischknecht had a spectacular game, leading all scorers with 23 points, while Douglas added 13 points.
“We didn’t play our best basketball, but I am proud of the resiliency we showed in winning a couple close games and one in overtime,” Shakespear said.
The Templars will have a tough test at home this week as they play host to a powerful 5A squad in Salem Hills this Tuesday. They’ll then head south to play in the Coach Walker Memorial Classic in St. George, taking on 4A teams Hurricane, Desert Hills and Dixie between Friday and Saturday.