Many high school basketball fans wondered about the legitimacy of Lone Peak’s No. 1 national ranking according to MaxPreps earlier this week. It’s hard to imagine any doubters remain after the clinic the Knights put on Thursday.
Top-ranked Lone Peak absolutely destroyed No. 3 Chester 73-50 in the quarterfinals of the City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, Fla. to improve to 9-0 this preseason.
Nick Emery and T.J. Haws scored 23 each to lead all scorers as the defending 5A state champs outscored Chester in each of the first three quarters to end the Clippers’ 61-game winning streak.
“I think we surprised them, and by the time they figured out they had a game we were up 12, 14 points,” said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis.
Lone Peak was the more disciplined team throughout the evening to advance to the City of Palms Classic semifinals. It will face the winner of the Lake Wales, Fla./Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.) on Friday at 5 p.m. Lake Wells and Southwind tip off tonight at 7:15 p.m. Southwind is ranked No. 5 by MaxPreps.
“I think it shows that Utah really plays good basketball, we really do. Year after year our best teams are undervalued on a national scope,” said Lewis.
Haws got Lone Peak going in the first quarter, knocking down three 3-pointers to pace his team to a 17-8 lead.
“We came out and shot well from the start, and we didn’t do that the other night against the Mississippi team,” said Lewis, in reference to Wednesday’s 60-42 win over Callaway, Miss. “We shot well right out of the gates and jumped on them.”
The third quarter is when the Knights really began to pull away outscoring the Clippers 26-14 to build a 59-36 lead. It’s no surprise that Emery was the catalyst to the run.
“Nick was the heart of the Knights in the third quarter. He stuck a couple of tough 3s and got to the basket a few times and it was 20-plus a couple minutes into the third,” said Lewis.
Lone Peak shot 46 percent from the field and knocked down 8 of 24 3-pointers.
The Knights’ defense was outstanding again holding Chester to just 35 percent shooting and forcing it into 20 turnovers. Lone Peak, meanwhile, only turned it over 10 times which was huge according to Lewis.
“It’s not something you would think going into a game like this where we’re going to get pressured,” said Lewis. “We play inside out defense and make them shoot tough jump shots, and we just kind of said we’re not going to give them easy baskets in transition cause we turn it over, they’re going to have to earn it.”
Along with Emery and Haws dominated game, Eric Mika chipped in with 13 points and nine rebounds while Connor Toolsen added 10 points
Even though MaxPreps had Lone Peak ranked No. 1, the two other publications that publish national high school basketball rankings both had Chester ranked higher. ESPN had Chester at No. 5 and Lone Peak at No. 6, while USA Today had Chester at No. 4 and Lone Peak No. 7.
Ironically enough, Lone Peak and Chester are scheduled to meet again in Milwaukee at the Brandon Jennings Invitational on Jan. 12. Lewis said the tournament organizer reserves the right to change the match-ups, and may end up doing so.