The last game of a busy weekend of opening round matchups featured South Summit and Emery. The game was extremely physical as the referees let the boys duke it out on the hardwood.
Brax Jensen received his third personal foul during the final seconds of the first quarter on a called charge. He had to be especially careful not to foul for the duration of the contest. With Emery leading 20-14 after a back-and-forth first quarter, the Wildcats came storming back to tie the game at 21. The two teams traded blows down the stretch of the half but Emery was able to take a 34-29 advantage into halftime. Kyson Stilson was huge for the Spartans and dropped 18 points in a physical first half.
Again, South Summit came roaring back and tied the game at 39. Kyler Wilstead answered with a left-handed layup and got three points the old fashion way after his made foul shot. The Wildcats then tied the game once more at 42. Wilstead responded with another layup to regain the lead. Minutes later while defending, Stilson made an excellent play to poke the ball out, run down the court and put in the layup while he was fouled. After the made attempt, the Spartans extended their lead to 51-42. Jensen then had a nice spin move as he penetrated to the basket and drew a defender in. He promptly kicked the ball out to a wide open Mason Faimalo, who buried the three as the Spartan faithful erupted in the stands. Emery led 58-45 with one quarter left to play.
With its season on the line, S. Summit would not give in. The Wildcats hit two back-to-back threes late in the fourth quarter to make it a seven-point ball game, 66-59. That is as close as they would get as the Spartans did well to take care of the ball and make foul shots down the stretch. Emery went on to win, 73-64.
Stilson had a game high 35 points and six steals. Wilstead had 13 points and led the team with eight rebounds and two blocks. Jensen recorded seven assists while Tuttle ended the night with seven rebounds. The Spartans grabbed 11 total steals and shot 45% from the field in the contest.
“We had a pretty good game plan [and] got the job done,” Stilson said after the game. He emphasized multiple times what a “huge team effort” the game was for the Spartans. Stilson commented on everyone’s exceptional play, from Brodie Tuttle’s numerous deflections to Jenson’s court vision. Everyone in the arena could see the effort that the men in black put into every single play. They did not take a play off and showed not only their heart, but the unselfish nature of the team.
The Spartans will have a rubber match against Grand in the quarterfinals next week in Richfield on Feb. 21 at 9:30 a.m. Grand is the hottest team in the tournament, winning six of its last eight games. The two teams split the season series, each getting wins on their respective home courts.