BOUNTIFUL — Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis wasn’t about to let his players take anything for granted Wednesday night at Viewmont.
Two years ago on a similar early December night in Davis County, No. 1 Lone Peak was upset by the Vikings — its only hiccup in what turned out to be a championship season.
That Lone Peak team, however, wasn’t also ranked No. 2 in the country according to MaxPreps.
Despite a bit of a sluggish first half, the nationally ranked Knights emphatically pulled away in the second half in a convincing 79-41 victory in their final tune-up game before participating in next week’s prestigious four-day City of Palms Tournament in Florida.
“We’re excited for us, and I’m not just saying this, we’re excited to represent our state. I think we have good basketball here relative to what our population is here,” said Lewis, whose team improved to 7-0 with the win.
After shooting just 30 percent in the first half, Lone Peak found its offensive rhythm in the second half shooting 76 percent from the field, including 8 of 10 from 3-point range.
Nick Emery led the way with 25 points and five 3-pointers, while big man Erik Mika was simply too much for Viewmont to deal with as he finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Mika’s ability to get to the line in the first half was huge. He made 11-of-12 free throws in the opening half as the Knights built a 35-23 lead. With each Mika trip to the free-throw line, you could sense Viewmont’s belief fading just a little bit. That was noteworthy, because early on the Vikes believed an upset was possible.
Spurred on by a zealous student body that started chanting “overrated” after Viewmont jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, there was definitely a buzz building in Viewmont’s gym.
“It’s fun to play in hostile environments like this, but you’ve got to push all that aside and not let that get to you otherwise it’s going to be a game,” said T.J. Haws, who took his share of heckling after a few early air balls.
The hope of an upset didn’t last too long.
Lone Peak took the lead for good at 9-7 late in the first quarter, and proceeded to increase it to 35-23 by halftime and then 62-32 after three quarters. When Lone Peak’s starting five were replaced with 4:33 remaining in the game, the Knights lead had ballooned to 71-34.
“We moved the ball. I thought we were too stagnant in the first half,” Lewis said. “We tried to make plays on our own just a little bit too much, and in the second half we started getting ball movement and it’s infectious. Once that started happening we just got open shots and got out in transition a little bit and played pretty well.”
Conner Toolson added 12 points for Lone Peak, while Haws added 10.
McKay Johnson was the only player to reach double figures for Viewmont as he finished with 11 points.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company