OREM — It took the high-flying Lone Peak Knights a little while to get going Thursday night against their rival. Once they did, though, they put on a show — just like they do almost every night.
In front of a near-capacity crowd at the UCCU Center, the Knights overcame a slow start to put on their typical show of suffocating defense, alley-oop dunks and breakaway layups in a 67-42 win over neighbor American Fork.
Early on, however, it wasn't all fun and games.
Three minutes into the contest Lone Peak found itself staring up at a 10-0 deficit. The Knights were out of sync while the Cavemen were firing on all cylinders.
“That was no fun,” said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis. “It’s a rivalry game and (American Fork) came ready to go and they came out making shots. We needed to wake up a little bit — more than anything else — and get the game moving in our direction.”
The Knights used a relentless trapping defense after a timeout that threw the Cavemen off their rhythm offensively. In turn, that led to easy breakaway baskets off turnovers. The result was a 29-4 run that all but ended any hope American Fork had of pulling off the big upset.
Center Eric Mika keyed Lone Peak’s run with dominating inside play and led all scorers at the half with 12. The Knights struggled from the perimeter early, but received a big boost from Zach Frampton, who contributed two 3-point buckets off the bench at the end of the first quarter.
“When you have a team like we have it’s not just about five guys,” Lewis said. “We have great players coming off the bench and Frampton is one heckuva player. He’s just behind some other great players, but he’ll be a college player in a year.”
Lone Peak ended the half up 36-18 and didn’t let up in the second. Smelling blood in the water the Knights quickly put together a 13-2 run to lead 49-20 and emptied their bench soon thereafter.
Conner Toolson led the effort in the second half and ended with 15 points. Mika led all scorers with 16 with Emery chipping in 13 and T.J. Haws adding another 12. American Fork was led by Christian Wells. He scored a team-high 14 points.
For Emery it was a rare night without a single made 3-pointer from the perimeter. Lone Peak’s leading scorer didn’t belabor his shot being off and found other ways to contribute and relied on the play of his teammates.
“In the second half I just started finding guys, getting them open and (they) knocked down the shots,” Emery said. “That sort of set the tone and we really wanted to put it to them tonight.”
With the win Lone Peak moves to 14-1 on the year and will next travel to Springfield, Mass., to take on nationally ranked St. Anthony this coming Monday. From now until that game Lewis intends on using Thursday night’s slow start as a teaching moment while resting a bit.
“We’ll use tonight’s first three minutes for the next week or two (to teach the players),” Lewis said. “You look out there and (American Fork) has good players and they’re going to take a shot at you and you’re not going to go through a season without someone taking a shot at you.”