“They can flat-out shoot,” Grantsville head coach Bryan Detweiler said.
It didn’t seem to matter what defensive schemes Grantsville tried against Emery. The Spartans drove past Cowboy defenders playing man-to-man, then shot their way out of a Cowboy 2-3 zone. Grantsville briefly played what looked to be a triangle-and-two combination defense, with little success.
More than once, Emery guards beat Grantsville defenders down the court for easy layups — Butler had one during a 17-8 run to start the third quarter, in which Brazier hit four of his five 3-pointers.
“I don’t think we (got back on defense) all night,” Detweiler said. “We didn’t look in sync defensively the whole night. We literally threw everything that we had out there and nothing really stuck.”
Grantsville had a mediocre first quarter in which Butler hit two 3-pointers to help Emery gain an 18-10 lead after Stilson driving layup with nine seconds remaining.
Cowboy senior forward Brady Arbon’s answered with a buzzer-beater 3-pointer to end the first period, and the home team made an 11-5 run that gave Grantsville a 24-23 lead with 2:30 to go in the half.
The Cowboys never led again.
“I think they got good looks because we couldn’t contain the ball and stop dribble penetration,” Detweiler said. “It’s either give up a layup or sag back and give up a 3, and they can shoot.”
Offensively, at least on the stat sheet, the Cowboys did fine. Arbon scored a career-high 30 points, 22 of which came at the block or after offensive rebounds.
Arbon had a putback with fewer than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, which seemed to spark a comeback. Sophomore Ammon Bartley hit a 3-pointer with 1:59 to play that brought the lead back down to nine, and senior guard Kevin Roberts hit one from deep a minute later that cut it to eight. Roberts had a steal and a bucket with 51 seconds to play to make it 71-65, but the Cowboys never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Emery (6-4) made nine of its final 10 free throws to keep the game out of reach. Butler had a team-high 25 points, Brazier had 20 and Stilson had 13 in the win.
Roberts had 17 points in the loss.
Grantsville (7-3) will play four games in four days next week beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday against Class 5A Alta (2-5), 5 p.m. on Dec. 28 against Class 4A Park City (2-4), 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 29 against 4A Desert Hills (5-2) and finish against county-rival Tooele (2-3) at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 30. All four games are part of the Utah Autism Holiday Classic hosted at Olympus High School.
Tavin Stucki has covered prep sports in Utah for more than nine years. This story was not subject to the approval of the Grantsville basketball program.