Templars push winning streak to five,
still undefeated in Region 14
By Matt Harris
MANTI—Manti continued to enjoy the view from the top, and it’s not looking like anyone will ruin that for them anytime soon.
Manti boys’ basketball pushed its streak to five straight wins and stayed undefeated in Region 14 with a non-region win over Millard, 72-40, and a solid victory over Delta, 61-49, last week. The Templars record improved to 14-1, their best record at this point in the season since they moved to 3A, as they continue to cement themselves as a premier power in the 3A classification.
The Templars 14th win of the season did not come easy, and certainly not as easy as their previous win. Manti dismantled an outmatched 2A Millard squad in the Templars’ final non-region game of the regular season.
Junior Grady Thompson led the charge with 24 points, including two 3 pointers. Senior Jordan Blauer scored 14 points, and senior Kevin Clark chipped in 12.
The following Friday, Manti returned home to host their toughest region matchup so far—senior Derek Smith and the Delta Rabbits, the No. 8 team in the UHSAA RPI rankings. Smith, the second-best scorer in Utah, came in averaging nearly 30 points per game.
Smith got his, scoring 36 points, but Manti took the victory.
The Templars made it extremely difficult for the star senior to generate points, holding him to 38 percent shooting on 26 shot attempts, more than half of the entire team’s attempts.
“Knowing that Derek is going to take a lot of shots, we tried focusing on defensive percentages to get a true read on the game,” Coach Devin Shakespear said. “Derek took 26 shots, and the rest of the team took 21 shots. I think it is easy to get caught up on point amount, so we tried to focus on keeping him and the rest of the team to low field goal percentages with good defense. I was pleased with our defense. We forced tough shots, and to hold a team to 33 percent field goal percentage is a defensive showing.”
Delta came out fast on a sluggish Manti team out of the gate. It was the Rabbits who held the first quarter lead, 16-9. The squads were tied 24 apiece at the half.
Manti’s typically stellar offense began to wake up as the Templars reclaimed the lead in the third quarter. The final frame was textbook Templar basketball as Manti hung 22 points on Delta to finish.
Blauer had the best game of his time as a Templar with a team-high 20 points along with 8 rebounds. Thompson had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds, and he also had 4 assists. Senior Conner Christiansen chipped in 10 points.
The Templars remain the top-ranked team in Deseret News 3A rankings.
After the Templars played North Sanpete on the road last night, they will take on Juab on the road tomorrow night before preparing for American Leadership next Wednesday.