There is, as a general rule, hype when number one plays number two. The excitement is only fueled when the top two are high school rivals separated by a mere three miles. The physical distance between American Fork High School and Lone Peak High School is reflected in the proximity of both schools at the top of 5A this season.
On Friday night, the no. 1 ranked Knights faced their challenger for the top, the no. 2 ranked Cavemen. Up until quarter three, it looked as if the Cavemen had drive and the talent to knock their rivals off their feet.
But the final eight minutes changed everything.
The Knights had quarter four right under their thumbs. Boosted by a pair of three pointers from both Talon Shumway and Nick Emery, Lone Peak scored 23 points in the fourth quarter alone - more than double American Fork's 10 and came away with a 57-42 victory.
Emery came to life after going 0-for-8 from the field to start and finished with a game-high 19 points, assisted by 13 points from freshman T.J. Haws.
"We're just glad to stay on top," Shumway said.
The final score didn't mirror the thrilling fight of the game itself. The Cavemen lead 10-8 at the end of the first quarter, and 22-21 at the the end of the second, falling behind only at the tail end of quarter 3 with 32-34.
The Cavemen were lead by Marcel Davis, scoring a team-high 15 points. The Cavemen battled for the lead - and, for the most part, succeeded - until their undoing throughout the second quarter. While American Fork was missing free throw after free throw and failing to sink three pointers, Lone Peak seemingly could not miss.
"We know we are better than that," American Fork forward, Alex Ross said. "We played head to head for three quarters, but we dug ourselves a hole and couldn't get out. But we get them one more time."
American Fork's gymnasium was a madhouse Friday night, and, if nothing the crowd was nearly as entertaining as the game itself. Nearly two hours before the varsity game had even begun the doors to the main gym had been closed and no one was to be let in while crowds were sent to overflow areas in other rooms in the high school to watch the game broadcast on a flat-screen TV.
Both overly-excited student sections broke out sign after creative sign, and the fourth quarter produced its very own spontaneous cheer-off among a crowd of more than 2,000, lending a playoff feel to a regular season match-up.
The rivals will go head to head one last time on Feb. 18 at Lone Peak.
Addy Baird is a sophomore at American Fork and student writer for its publication, "The Forkaster."
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