HIGHLAND — Many regard this year’s Lone Peak basketball team as the best in Utah prep history. The Knights looked every bit the part in Wednesday’s 79-59 win over Brighton.
It was a rematch of last year’s 5A state championship and, much like last year, the Knights jumped all over the Bengals early and then cruised to an easy win.
BYU commits Nick Emery, Eric Mika and TJ Haws led the way for Lone Peak with 25, 22 and 16 points, respectively. Emery did a lot of the early work on offense, with Haws providing a spark in the second quarter and Mika finishing Brighton off in the fourth. Big contributions were also made by others, including Connor Toolson and Talon Shumway.
The Bengals came into Wednesday’s game fresh off a 121-point output against West — something the Knights were well aware of.
“That’s real impressive — that’s hard (to do),” Emery said about Brighton’s 121 points. “Our goal was to come out (strong) on defense. That’s our main thing this year.”
Lone Peak jumped all over Brighton using suffocating defensive pressure to catapult it to an 18-0 run to start the game. The Knights led 23-3 after the first with Emery providing nine points and four steals.
Haws took center stage in the second hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 11 points with Lone Peak taking a 46-22 lead into the half.
Brighton put up a big fight in the third quarter and used a 12-0 run to cut the deficit to 58-46 entering the final period. Utah commit Brandon Miller woke up for Brighton after a slow start and provided a lot of the offense along with guard Zach Bernardo. Miller scored 14 of his team-high 23 points in the quarter.
“I think we got tired and mentally (out of it) because we were up by 25,” Emery said about the third quarter. “Brandon (Miller) hit a couple of big shots and got them going and that’s how their team is led. Brandon leads their team and their offense revolves around him.”
The Knights responded to Brighton’s big third quarter by scoring the first eight points of the fourth with Mika leading the way. The 6-foot-10 center struggled with his shot for much of the game, but found it in the fourth and scored 12 of his 22 points in the final period.
“I think what happens is he just wears on people,” said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis about Mika’s fourth quarter. “They did a good job on him for most of the game, but we also started to get penetration in the fourth quarter and when they helped, (Mika) was open.”
This was Mika’s first official game played for Lone Peak after sitting out all of last season after transferring from Waterford. Despite his dominating performance Mika admitted to being a bit nervous.
“It was a lot crazier than I thought it would be,” Mika said. “I felt kind of rushed in the beginning, but my team picked it up for me in the first half so I didn’t have to worry about missing shots. It was a lot of fun. I had butterflies (in my stomach) all month and it was nice to get them out.”
After winning its first game of the year Lone Peak will head out to Chicago Saturday to take on nationally ranked Proviso (Ill.). It will be one of nine times the Knights will face out-of-state opponents this season with the goal of improving themselves against the best while representing the state.
“That’s very important to us,” Lewis said about representing the state of Utah well. “We play a good level of basketball here. We have good coaches and good players. We’re excited to represent the state and (the importance) is not lost on me."