HIGHLAND — To knock off Lone Peak and sweep the season series, the Pleasant Grove Vikings knew exactly what they had to do Wednesday night — stop the Knights powerful scoring duo of Tannon Pedersen and Nick Emery.
"It's not rocket science," Vikings coach Randy McAllister said. "That's what every team tries to do."
Emery scored 12 and Pedersen added 11, but they struggled and battled for every point, and finished with 14 points below their combined average as the Vikings held off the Knights for a 62-54 Region 4 road win.
"We swept them four years ago, they swept us the next three years, and we get the sweep this year. Going 4-6 against the perennial state champions is not that bad. I'll take that," McAllister said.
More important than the rivalry factor, however, is the separation the victory gives the Vikings over the Knights in the league standings. Pleasant Grove is now 5-3, while the Knights drop down to the fifth spot at 4-5.
Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said teams focusing on Emery and Pedersen is nothing new, but the Knights have usually been able to survive that tactic. Against the Vikings, however, the Knights struggled to get good looks, struggled to make shots and turned the ball over far too many times.
"This was the worst we've played all year," Lewis said. "Of course Pleasant Grove had something to do with that, but we just didn't play very well."
What the Vikings did well, other than hold down Emery and Pedersen, was rebound, take care of the ball, shoot better than Lone Peak and take advantage of their mismatches in athleticism and experience.
Both began the game sluggish, but behind a 3-pointer each from Emery, Pedersen and Brody Berry, the Knights led 14-12 after one quarter. A scoop off the glass by Emery to open the second quarter gave Lone Peak its biggest lead at 16-12.
But a 7-0 run by the Vikings put them ahead for good. A running hook by Emery brought the Knights back to one at 21-20, before a put-back basket by Cory McAllister and a dunk by Joe Kruger pushed the margin to five. With two 3-pointers from Cory McAllister before the half, the Vikings took a 33-24 lead into the break.
After Pedersen hit a trey to open the second half, the Vikings picked up where they left off and went on another 12-4 run to take a 45-31 lead. Sefa Tanoai had seven points in the run.
"We got a little hot right there and started to make some shots, and that really gave us some room to breath," McAllister said.8 comments on this story
Lone Peak, with Emery on the bench with four fouls, responded with a run of its own by outscoring the Vikings 12-5 the rest of the quarter. Senior Christian Childs had the final five points of the run, and then opened the fourth with another bucket to cut Pleasant Grove's lead to 50-45.
The next three minutes, however, belonged to Pleasant Grove center Joe Kruger, who made four straight baskets to quickly push the Vikings' margin up to 58-45.
"That was huge," McAllister said. "That really iced the game for us."
The Knights actually made one last run and cut the lead down to 58-52 with 35 seconds left, but Pleasant Grove's Brady Hogland hit four straight free throws to seal the win for good.