A month came and went, and Lone Peak managed to hold onto its No. 1 national ranking.
After suffering only one loss this season, coming in the City of Palms Tournament to another top ranked team Montverde, the Knights are poised to finish the season with national honors.
A New York Times article this week featured the Lone Peak basketball team and spent a great deal of the article highlighting what makes the Knights different from other top-ranked high school teams.
Nick Emery, T.J. Haws and Eric Mika — a trio of ESPN Top 100 players hailing from the small towns of Alpine and Highland — create a threat that has been too much to handle for almost every team they faced this season.
The three combine forces in a style of play that highlights draining 3-pointers and creating eye-popping alley-oops.
“They play like inner-city teams; how blacks consider black teams play,” said head coach of seventh-ranked Whitney Young High School Tyrone Slaughter. “I don’t know any other way to put it.
“So many times we see the predominantly white teams play a conservative style, a precise style of basketball,” he said according to the New York Times. “When you see this team play, it is completely different.”
And the boys from Lone Peak know it.
“We know we’re different whenever we walk into a gym,” said Knights coach Quincy Lewis. “But our guys walk in there with a chip on their shoulder. We know we have something to prove because, honestly, the other teams don’t have a great deal of respect for us.”
With each year that goes by, the Knights slowly turn more and more heads, but this year the team is respected even more on a national level. Slaughter told the Times that when a team is blown out, he says they have been "Lone Peaked."
It seems as if this year all the pieces of the puzzle came together for the Knights, but the glue holding the puzzle together is religion. The primarily LDS team freely acknowledges that their faith unites the team in a unique way.
Under a national microscope, their publicly acknowledged religion has drawn inquiries, but Lone Peak brushes them off with a smile.
“A couple of summers ago, we were in Boston,” Mika said. “Someone was like: ‘Oh, you guys are all Mormon. How many moms do you have? You guys all brothers?’ We just laugh.”
More than anything, they let their play do the talking.
“There was one team we played that was literally laughing when we were warming up,” Mika said with a chuckle according to the NY Times article. “And we beat them by 50.”
Despite all the talk on the national level, the Knights have refocused their attention to the local scene. In the midst of the state 5A basketball tournament, Lone Peak must three-peat and become champions again in order to retain their No. 1 ranking.
Lone Peak plays Davis in the 5A quarterfinals tonight at 4:10 p.m. MDT at Weber State University. If all goes well for the Knights, they will be playing in the championship game this Saturday and attempting to achieve the highest level of high school basketball greatness.
“I feel this is really a once-in-a-life team,” Haws said.
Whitney O'Bannon is currently a new media sports intern for the Deseret News.
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