Templars suffer first loss to
No. 1 ranked Dixie in tourney
By Matt Harris
MANTI—It wasn’t the least expected thing to happen, but Manti’s tough schedule finally overwhelmed them, at least once, as the Templars suffered their first loss of the season last weekend.
The Manti boys’ basketball team moved to 2-0 in region play with a win over Juab, 62-51, last Wednesday. The team then travelled to southern Utah to face a gauntlet in the Coach Walker Memorial Holiday Classic. Manti faced a string of three different 4A teams: Crimson Cliffs, Dixie and Pine View.
The Templars convincingly handled a brand-new Crimson Cliffs squad, 85-71, and pulled out a 62-57 win over Pine View, who was ranked No. 4 in 4A hoops in Utah by Deseret News. Between the two wins, Manti played No. 1-ranked Dixie to the final minutes before Dixie sealed it with free throws, 69-61.
“It was good for us see good man, zone and presses and continue to learn how to execute against good teams,” Coach Devin Shakespear said. “Dixie has a good 6’10” kid, and I was proud of our defensive effort and offensive execution versus him and their team. We led much of the first half and [it] was a four-point game down the stretch until we had to foul. It was a tough loss, but one I hope our team learns from.”
Manti’s loss came in spite of a career night for senior Kevin Clark. Clark erupted for 27 points, including five 3-pointers, against the Flyers. Senior Conner Christiansen finished with 13 points.
In the other two tourney appearances, Manti shared the scoring effectively as they have done all season.
Against Crimson Cliffs, Manti saw all five starters score in double figures in their highest-scoring outing of the season so far. Senior Travis Thomson led with 20 points, while senior Jordan Blauer scored 17, Clark scored 14, Christiansen scored 11 and junior Grady Thompson scored 10 as the Templars pulled away in the second half.
Against Pine View, Manti took the Panthers to the wire and pulled away in the fourth quarter. Christiansen had the best game of his career as a Manti player as he scored 20 points, including two 3-pointers, to lead the team. Clark chipped in 15 points while Thomson contributed 13 more.
With the win over the Panthers, Manti became the second team in Utah to reach 10 wins overall behind Timpview.
The Templars next face American Leadership next Saturday as they get into the thick of Region 14 competition.