EMERY — Emery looked very comfortable on its home floor Saturday night, whereas Ben Lomond did not. The result was pretty predictable.
The Region 12 champion Spartans jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it in a convincing 66-55 win over the Scots in the first round of the 3A boys basketball state tournament.
"If we play that team on a neutral floor, who knows, but the way it's set up in 3A that's our advantage," said Emery coach Todd Jeffs about playing the game at home. "That's why league play is so important to try and take first or second. We've been on the other end of that a few times, and it's not fun."
That wasn't a problem on Saturday, and now Emery advances to play Cedar this Thursday in the quarterfinals at Utah Valley University at 12:50 p.m.
Emery led by as many as 19 points at one point in the fourth quarter, but Ben Lomond clawed back to 62-53 with under two minutes remaining after draining five straight 3-pointers. The streaky shooting definitely came a little too late.
Most of Ben Lomond's discomfort throughout the game had to do with Emery's size and its suffocating zone defense. Despite patiently trying to attack the zone, the Scots couldn't get anything going inside and eventually had to settle for outside jumpers. Nothing was dropping until late in the game
"When we play aggressively in our zone we're pretty good, that keeps us in the games," said Jeffs. "There have been games when we've been really phenomenal defensively like that and games we have not. For us to have a chance, we have to play that way defensively every night."
Ben Lomond shot 25 percent in the first half and finished the game shooting 34 percent.
Emery meanwhile was consistent throughout, shooting 52 percent for the game, as Colton Barnett led the way with 16 points. TJ Furner, Nevin Jensen and Tanner Procarione all chipped in with 13, 12 and 12 points respectively.
As well as his team played defensively, capitalizing on the early momentum and taking the lead was just as important.
"I felt it kind of put us in charge throughout the game. It was close and it was tight, but I always felt like we were dictating tempo, we were in control. Had we not got off to that start it could've been drastically different," said Jeffs.
Emery maintained a 6-to-9 point cushion throughout the first three quarters, but it gradually started pulling away in the fourth quarter extending the lead to 58-37 at one point. That's when Ben Lomond began its barrage of 3-pointers, connecting on five of its nine three points in the final four minutes.
Outside shooting is usually Emery's strength, but it only made three on Saturday. That was just fine with Jeffs though as his team capitalized on its significant size advantage.
JUAN DIEGO 44, RICHFIELD 37: The Soaring Eagle erased an early 7-2 deficit after the first quarter as Ajay Pizza scored 16 points.
HURRICANE 69, UNION 48: Zach Sorenson led three Tigers in double figures with 16 points while Tyler Hinton snagged 12 boards as Hurricane led 30-15 at halftime.
WASATCH 62, GRANTSVILLE 34: Mike Brown led all scorers with 13 points and teammate Jake Hobbs chipped in with 11 to carry the Wasps into the second round.
MORGAN 49, JUAB 42 (OT): Braden Saunders drained five treys on his way to 17 points while Joey Lewis notched 15 points for the Wasps as Morgan outscored Juab 10-3 in overtime.
CEDAR 52, PARK CITY 49: Brandon Garrett led all scorers with 19 points and Cedar's clutch free throw shooting propelled them to a first round victory over the Miners.
JUDGE 71, DELTA 42: Zach Myaer led all scorers with 21 points, Daniel Shiramizu chipped in with 14, and Will Whitt finished with a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds in the win for the Bulldogs.
DESERT HILLS 74, ALA 49: Brandon Simister and Tyler Ott combined for 33 points while teammate Jon Bodnar also scored in double figures to help the Thunder advance past American Leadership.