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WEST VALLEY CITY — The Lone Peak Knights had little trouble dispatching Kearns in the first round of the 5A boys state basketball tournament, jumping out to an early lead then cruising to a 62-36 victory.
The Maverik Center is known to elicit some cold shooting as a basketball venue. Played on a floor laid over the sheet of ice, many sharpshooters find their shooting as cold as the floor they play over.
Lone Peak's Nick Emery apparently didn't get the memo.
The 6-foot-2 junior guard came out on fire, hitting his first three 3-point attempts before three minutes were gone in the game. At the 5:15 mark of the first quarter, the score stood: Nick Emery 11, Kearns 2.
"It's just one of those times when you feel it coming right out," said Emery. "I felt good in warm-ups and it was just falling for me."
Shots falling for Emery is hardly an uncommon occurrence, but the state playoffs can be different. Entering his first game there, the BYU commit had heard all about how tough it is to shoot at the Maverik Center.
"We had some good experience playing in South Carolina in a venue kind of like this, so I think that may have helped," said Emery. "I'm confident in my shot and after that first one went through I didn't think about it."
Emery finished the game with 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting and 4-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. He sat out much of the fourth quarter as the Knights had the game well in hand.
"Talon is a great player and you can certainly see him starting to hit his shots more, and that's exciting," said Emery. "We learned last year that we need everyone playing well and with Talon starting to hit his shots — well, it gives us a lot of confidence as a team."
Although they won it all last season, Emery and his teammates know that it's going to be that much tougher to repeat.
"There's so many great teams in the state; you really can't look past anyone," said Emery. "Right now, we're just focused on playing our next game, which will be either Copper Hills or Northridge and both of them can be a tough challenge.
"We learned last year that every game presents its own unique challenge. Today we had the challenge of defending Dayon Goodman, who is one of the best players in the state, and on Thursday it will be another challenge."
Goodman led Kearns with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting and nine rebounds.