clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

High school boys basketball: Manti rallies past Richfield, wins 3A state championship

The Templars trailed for almost three quarters before rallying to defeat the Wildcats and win their second state title in three years

Manti’s Konner Clark (11) and Kevin Clark (5) celebrate with their older brother, center, Tyler Clark, who also played for the team when he was in high school, after the boys win the 3A championship basketball game against Richfield at the Lifetime Activities Center in Taylorsville on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.
Manti’s Konner Clark (11) and Kevin Clark (5) celebrate with their older brother, center, Tyler Clark, who also played for the team when he was in high school, after the boys win the 3A championship basketball game against Richfield at the Lifetime Activities Center in Taylorsville on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.
Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

TAYLORSVILLE — There is something about the Manti Templars and large deficits.

In the semifinals of the 3A state tournament, played Friday night at Salt Lake Community College, Manti fell behind multiple times to the Judge Memorial Bulldogs. It didn’t end up mattering as the Templars battled back, pulled out the win and advanced to the state title game, but Manti appeared to be playing with fire.

Saturday night at the Lifetime Activities Center in the 3A state championship game, the Templars decided to dive straight into the proverbial flames with the state title on the line.

At the end of the first quarter, the Richfield Wildcats held a 17-9 advantage over the Templars. At the end of the second quarter, Richfield still led, 27-21. At the end of the third quarter the Wildcats were still on top, 39-38.

When the final whistle blew, though, it was the Manti Templars who walked away state champions.

Manti defeated Richfield 60-54, slowly but steadily rallying to top the Wildcats. Did they ever doubt that they could come back and win? Not even a little.

“You know, I don’t doubt my team at all,” senior Travis Thomson said. “I don’t doubt my coaches. They all know what they are doing. It is not the first time we have fallen behind this year. We were down to Richfield by 10 in the fourth quarter (on Dec. 6) and still came back and won. They are a great team, but we just came out with intensity and believed in each other. That is all it took.”

Well that and some great performances. Thomson led the way with a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds, while Grady Thompson chipped in a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. Then there was Jordan Blauer, an invaluable contributor who finished with seven points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Kevin Clark, who made timely shots when needed.

“I am so proud of these guys and what they’ve done,” Manti head coach Devin Shakespear said. “Their toughness and attitude, they are the best kids in the world. We just stayed the course. I told them, ‘Stay the course, stay the course, stay the course.’ This is the best defensive team that I’ve had and they just know how to get stops when it is important and they know how to go out, get tough and really work hard.”

They needed to be all that and more as Richfield benefitted from stellar outings by Josh Thalman (15 points), Morgan Albrecht (14), Will Robinson (9) and Hayden Harward (9). For much of the game, the Wildcats appeared primed to win their first state title since 1988. They even channeled their inner-Manti and went on a little rally of their own, during a foul-marred fourth quarter.

After trailing all game, Manti actually pulled ahead by as many as seven points with under four minutes remaining in the game. At that point, the Templars seemed to be on the verge of running away with it. The Wildcats had other plans and managed to cut the lead to one point with just under two minutes remaining.

Facing yet another test, Manti had an answer, though. All season long they’ve had answer after answer en route to a 25-1 record. Why would the state title game have been any different?

“We knew if we played our best no one could beat us,” said Thompson. “We knew we had to play our best, but at the end of the day we knew we could.”

  • Watch replay: Manti 60, Richfield 54

And now they are state champions.

“This means so much,” Thomson said. “To be able to do this for Manti High School, the community and the team, it means so much to me.”

“It is unbelievable,” added Shakespear. “You can’t describe it. They’ve set a standard that is unbelievable. A standard of excellence and brotherhood. This is just a wonderful group of boys.”

A group of state champions.

Deseret News 3A boys all-tournament team

  • MVP — Grady Thompson, Manti
  • Jordan Blauer, Manti
  • Hayden Harward, Richfield
  • Brax Jensen, Emery
  • Deng Mayar, Judge Memorial
  • Josh Thalman, Richfield