OGDEN — Nick Emery's game — as opposed to the foul-filled, free-throw shooting marathon contest his Lone Peak Knights won — was nearly flawless.
Emery scored a career-high 36 points, shot 18-for-18 from the free-throw line and had six steals in Lone Peak's 80-63 victory over West Jordan in the 5A quarterfinals at Weber State on Wednesday afternoon.
Emery scored 10 of the Knights' 14 points in what was a slow starting first quarter for the state title favorites. West Jordan scored the game's first seven points, and Lone Peak missed six of its first seven shots.
"I think we were nervous at the beginning," Emery said. "We just had to get things going. I think I hit one 3 to get us going and (Jordan Hamilton) started to get shots and TJ (Haws) started knocking down shots. Once you make that first shot you get rolling from there."
Just as he did in the second round against Pleasant Grove, Emery got Lone Peak's offense rolling with 3-pointers. He hit two in the first quarter. He gave the Knights the lead for good with four straight free throws late in the first.
"I thought, obviously, Nick played very well and made his foul shots," said Knights coach Quincy Lewis.
Emery said he has struggled with free throws the entire season. But he has increased his practice at the foul line in the last week, shooting 100 or more free throws at a time.
That practice came in handy in a game that was plagued by fouls and free throws. The two teams were whistled for a combined 59 fouls and shot 71 free throws. The Knights were an amazing 38-for-43 from the free-throw line.
Lone Peak, which will play Fremont in the semifinals on Friday, is thrilled to be moving on in the tournament, but there's no doubt that the number of fouls called in the game killed any kind of flow to the highly anticipated contest. West Jordan starting guards DeShawn Perkins and Jordan Pryor fouled out in the third quarter.
"It was physical," Emery said. "We just had to play through it. Our game felt like it took forever."
Lone Peak pulled away by outscoring the Jaguars 27-11 in the second quarter. The Knights built an 18-point halftime lead before holding off a couple of rallies by the shorthanded Jaguars in the second half.
West Jordan got within 56-46 after forward Jordan Loveridge converted a four-point play and a three-point play. But Emery again took over, drawing fouls and making free throws on consecutive possessions. He made a layup to put the Knights back in control at 62-46.
Emery put the game out of reach when he converted a three-point play to give the Knights a 68-52 lead with 4:46 left in the game.
"He takes contact so well and finishes," Lewis said. "He had probably four, maybe five, and-ones. He made big plays."
Lone Peak also won because it made better basic plays than West Jordan. The Knights had just seven turnovers, compared to 21 by the Jaguars.
"I thought we took care of the ball well," Lewis said. "They made some good runs at us, and we didn't panic and made our foul shots."
Loveridge led West Jordan with 31 points. Jaxon Knighton had 13 rebounds for the Jaguars. Hamilton scored 15 points for Lone Peak, while Haws chipped in 13 points.
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