Written by Hayden Johnson
The Spartans beat Manti in a tough, physical game Friday night by a score of 60-58. Dillon Wilstead carried the load offensively for Emery, scoring 27 points with an effective 63% shooting and five steals. Bailey Faimalo facilitated the offense with nine assists to go along with his 16 points.
Emery continued their trend of getting off to fast starts led by Faimalo, who scored or assisted each of Emery’s first six points on the way to a 14-13 Spartan lead after the first.
Despite their troubles at the line, Emery pulled out to a 34-27 lead at the half. It would be their largest lead of the game.
Free throws were huge in the second half after both teams got into the double bonus. Emery struggled mightily from the charity stripe all game long, shooting 20-42 on free throws in the game.
“A major concern for me is how poorly we are shooting free throws,” head coach Todd Jeffs explained. “We are good shooters and we need to be better at the line.”
The Templars of Manti came out shooting in the second half and made a run to tie the game at 39 halfway through the third.
Manti pulled out to lead by four early in the fourth quarter. However, they struggled to keep their composure and a technical foul let the Spartans shoot free throws that tied the game. In the end, clutch free throws from Faimalo and Ridge Nielson sealed the game for the Spartans in the back and forth game.
Coach Jeffs said physicality was a key for the Spartan victory. “I liked our ability to play through the physical play we saw from Manti. We haven’t played a team that physical so far this year.”
“That win meant a lot. I love how we battled all game,” explained Spartan Wilstead. “It’s a big confidence builder that we can shoot so bad from the line and still hang on to win. We have a lot of talent and just need to continue to work hard.”
The Spartans will face Merit Academy at home on Monday where they look to keep their streak alive.