Written by Hayden Johnson
MOAB- Emery won a critical region game Tuesday, beating out the Grand County Devils on the road 71-56. The win for the Spartans breaks the tie with Grand and gives Emery the lone spot for second in Region 15 with a final record of 6-4 in region play.
Emery guards Bailey Faimalo and Dillon Wilstead dominated the game from start to finish and both players had career high nights. Junior Wilstead was the game’s leading scorer with a career high 34 points while going 6 of 8 from deep and also pulling down 6 boards and senior Faimalo had an incredible stat line of 16 points, 5 steals and a career high 16 assists.
Faimalo said “I was finding the sweet spot in Grand’s 1-3-1 defense. Before the game we really prepared for that defense and knew how to attack it coming in into the game. My teammates were making shots whenever I passed it to them and I’m more proud of them than myself.”
Emery held the advantage to start the game thanks largely to the previously mentioned guard play by the Spartans. Wilstead and Faimalo were able to force turnovers and drive into the Red Devil’s defense to get easy looks. The two guards combined for 20 of Emery’s 23 points to end the first quarter, with the Spartans leading 23-13.
Despite the early lead by the Spartans Grand showed that they had no quit in them. Good shooting from the three-point line and well executed plays lead to a major run by Grand County. The Red Devils came storming back and cut the Emery lead to just two at the end of the first half with the score at 30-28.
Early in the third quarter Wilstead starting taking over. He was able to get to the rim almost at will while also stretching the defense as he got his long range shot to fall. At one point he had four straight of the Spartan baskets including two three’s. This play by Wilstead led Emery to a 14-2 run as it got out to the 44-30 lead. Grand was able to make a run however, as they had done throughout the entire game. The Red Devils went on a 17-4 run to end the third quarter capped off by a three with little time left by senior Kaden Risenhoover.
It was tight to start the fourth quarter with neither team really dominating the other. Both teams played really well down the stretch and it was only a six point game with a minute left until the Spartans began to pull away. Emery was able to make free throws down the stretch to seal the important win.
“A good attitude and finding a rhythm allowed me to play well.” Said Wilstead. Faimalo said “Going into the tournament we need to have the same attitude as our last couple of games, play scrappy, come straight out of the gate firing on all cylinders, and play our hardest. That’s when we’re at our best.” Both guards also shared one sentiment. “We need to just take this one game at a time.”
Emery plays Rockwell (11-11, 5-5 in Region 14) in the state tournament play-in game on Saturday. The game will be held at Orem High School at 8:30 a.m.