MANTI–Coach Devin Shakespear takes pride in building a kind of team where anyone can have a big night, and last week, junior Kayson Douglas took his turn.
Douglas sunk the final shot for the win as he exploded for a career-high 27 points, and Manti boys’ basketball sealed the win over Union on the road last Wednesday, 46-45. The Templars followed up the close victory with a not-so-close victory over a hapless Delta team the following Friday, 85-53.
“Union is a tough team, and they are playing well,” Shakespear said. “We were pleased with our defensive effort on a night we struggled offensively. Our team does a great job providing an atmosphere where any player on a given night can have a great night like Kayson did. The team instills great confidence in each other, and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Outside of Douglas, the Templars couldn’t get much going on offense as they netted only 17 total field goals and hit only 6 of 12 free throws. Manti defensively had to deal with Union senior Grady Gardner, who finished with 23 points of his own.
Despite all that, the Templars carried what seemed like a comfortable lead into the fourth quarter, 34-27, considering the low-scoring affair. Union then clawed their way back over the course of the quarter until the final minute, when they nailed a pair of free throws to take the lead with 30 seconds remaining. Facing a fierce man-to-man defensive set, Douglas took the pass from sophomore Kayston Larsen and drove on a defender, making him fall as he popped a floater for the win as Union’s last attempt clanked off. Douglas grabbed the final rebound as well to secure the win.
Douglas’s big night included five 3-pointers.
Against Delta, Manti put up more points than they had since the second game of last season when they scored 89 on San Juan. It was also Manti’s largest win margin of the season.
Manti put up 27 points in the first quarter, racing out to a 14-point lead, and led 44-20 at halftime. Junior Larsen Pogroszewski led all scorers with 16 points, and Manti got a chance to empty the bench as 14 players scored at least a point. Douglas scored 14 points, while senior Dylan Christensen had 13 points, and sophomore Reggie Frischknecht added 10. The Templars combined for nine 3-pointers and totaled 30 made field goals.
A huge game approaches for the Templars as they head up the road to take on rival North Sanpete this Wednesday. They’ll then be on the road against Juab on Friday.