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High school boys basketball: Top seed Manti rallies past Judge Memorial for 3A semifinal win

The Manti Templars head coach Devin Shakespear and some team members celebrate a 3-pointer against the Judge Memorial Bulldogs during the 3A boys basketball semifinals at the Lifetime Activities Center in Taylorsville on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.
The Manti Templars head coach Devin Shakespear and some team members celebrate a 3-pointer against the Judge Memorial Bulldogs during the 3A boys basketball semifinals at the Lifetime Activities Center in Taylorsville on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.
Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

TAYLORSVILLE — On three different occasions and in three different quarters Friday night, 3A’s top seed Manti found itself down multiple possessions and in danger of falling behind by double digits.

It had an answer every time, and that resiliency is a big reason the Templars will be playing in Saturday’s state championship.

Trailing by six entering the fourth quarter, Manti dominated the final eight minutes rolling to the 65-55 victory in the 3A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College.

Jordan Blauer scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the quarter that opened up a two-possession cushion for Manti.

“After I airballed the first one I just had to keep shooting cause I know I’m a good shooter and I can help my team out,” said Blauer.

Kevin Clark added 20 points for Manti, with Grady Thompson chipping in with 12 as Manti outscored Judge Memorial 27-11 in the fourth quarter.

“We kind of broke loose and played our style for the fourth quarter. Got some transition, ball got moving, we started sharing it, and that got our assists back up,” said Manti coach Devin Shakespear.

With the victory, Manti advances to Saturday’s championship at 7 p.m. at SLCC where it will try and win its second 3A title in the past three years.

Through the first three quarters, it looked as if Judge Memorial might be playing on the final day of the season.

Getting production from multiple players, the Bulldogs built a 16-10 lead after the first quarter and stretched it to 28-21 at halftime.

Led by Deng Mayar’s 12 points and then 11 from Got Daw, Judge Memorial maintained the 44-38 lead after three quarters.

Shakespear was very pleased that the game never got away from his team during those first three quarters when Judge was dictating the tempo.

“The big focus coming into tonight was cut runs, cut runs, cut runs. It’s a game of runs with them, they’re good, and good teams are going to play good basketball, but we have to cut runs. We can’t give them three straight baskets, we got to cut it to two,” said Shakespear.

It wasn’t until the 4:51 mark of the fourth quarter that Manti took its first lead since the first quarter on a layup by Kevin Clark. He added two free throws to stretch it to 51-47 on the next possession.

Manti made 15 of 21 free throws in the second half to help put the game away, while the charity stripe proved to be a big problem for Judge. It only made 5 of 13 free throws in the second half, otherwise the game would’ve been much tighter in the final minutes.