Emery beat Manti in a tough physical game Friday night, 60-58.
Dillon Wilstead carried the load offensively for the Spartans, scoring 27 points on an effective 63 percent shooting and also contributing five steals. Bailey Faimalo facilitated the offense with nine assists to go along with his 16 points.
Emery continued its trend of getting off to fast starts, led by Faimalo, who scored or assisted each of Emery’s first six points on the way to a 14-13 Spartan lead through the first quarter.
Free throws were huge in the second half after both teams got into the double bonus. Emery struggled mightily from the charity stripe, shooting 20-of-42 on free throws in the game.
“A major concern for me is how poorly we are shooting free throws," Spartans head coach Todd Jeffs said. "We are good shooters and we need to be better at the line.”
Despite troubles at the line, Emery pulled out to a 34-27 lead at the half. It was the Spartans' largest lead of the game.
The Templars came out shooting in the second half and made a run to tie the game at 39 midway through the third quarter and pulled out to lead by four early in the fourth quarter. Manti struggled to keep its composure, however, and a technical foul let the Spartans shoot free throws that tied the game. In the end, free throws from Faimalo and Ridge Nielson sealed the game for the Spartans.
Jeffs said physicality was a key to victory for the Spartans: “I liked our ability to play through the physical play we saw from Manti. We haven’t played a team that physical so far this year.”
It was a big win for Emery, and Wilstead recognized that.
“That win meant a lot. I love how we battled all game; it’s a big confidence builder that we can shoot so bad from the line and still hang on to win. We have a lot of talent and just need to continue to work hard,” he said.
The Spartans face Merit Academy next at home on Monday, where they’ll look to keep their streak alive.
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