ETV News stock photo by Dusty Butler
After beating South Sevier on Wednesday, the Emery Spartans traveled to Richfield on Friday evening for another must-win game in order to keep their region title hopes alive.
The Spartans jumped out to a quick start for a 7-2 lead. The Wildcats answered with an 8-0 run and went up 11-10 after the first quarter. The Spartans battled back in the second to regain the lead and take a one point advantage into halftime, 28-27.
Richfield came out of the half firing and regained control of the game. The Wildcats went up 48-42 with one quarter left to play.
The Spartans would not go away and came crawling back in the final quarter. With under three minutes to play, Emery cut the deficit to three, 57-54. The Spartans then hit a three to tie the game at 57.
After a two on the other end, Cade Brazier hit another three to give the Spartans back the lead 60-58 with less than two minutes in the contest. With the same score and under one minute left, Richfield drove to the rack and a foul was called on the layup that went in. After the made free throw, Richfield was back on top 61-60.
On the ensuing Spartan possession, the Wildcats intercepted a pass and were instantly fouled. Emmitt Hafen went to the line for the Wildcats to attempt two shots. Hafen made the first but missed the second to keep the game within two points, 62-60.
Brax Jensen received the ball and attacked the defense before it was set. As Jensen drove down the lane, he found an open Mason Faimalo, who put up an easy layup to tie the game with less than 20 seconds to go.
Then, a whistle was blown. Jensen was called for traveling, which negated the would-be game-tying basket. The Emery bench was then given a technical for arguing the controversial call. Richfield went 1-2 from the line to go up by three and retained the ball. Emery immediately fouled the Wildcats and Richfield made both free throws to seal the game. The Spartans fought hard but were denied the victory and lost in heart-wrenching fashion, 65-60.
Emery (12-5, 4-4 Region 15) will have a road game against the surging Manti Templars (15-4, 6-3 Region 15) on Wednesday. Manti has won five straight games to pull within a half of game behind Richfield in the standings. The Spartans with then host North Sanpete (4-14, 0-8 Region 15) on Friday night in the Spartan Center. Both games will be streamed live online. Friday’s game will also be broadcast live on ETV Channel 10.
With four region games remaining, the Spartans are not eliminated from the region title, but their chances are slim. The Spartans still have a lot to play for, however, including seeding in and preparing for the state tournament.