OGDEN — Just as expected, the Lone Peak Knights advanced out of the first round of the 5A state tournament with a decisive victory over West Jordan on Monday evening.
The top-ranked team in the state and the nation defeated West Jordan 90-53 at the Dee Events Center in what was the first of four anticipated victories in the team’s third straight state title run.
“We shared (the ball) really well and I think maybe our experience showed,” said head coach Quincy Lewis, who was named the Naismith Boys High School Coach of the Year on Monday. “We’ve been here before and we were ready to go.”
After spending the season traveling to some of the nation’s top tournaments to face other top teams, playing in the postseason in Utah might not generate the same nerves.
Not that the Knights are thinking about that a whole lot.
“We try not to think about where we’re playing or the stage,” said 6-foot-10 center Eric Mika. “We just take it one game at a time.”
He added that, while the team has had some big experiences this season, the ultimate goal is still a Utah state championship.
“This is the state tournament,” he said. “You can’t win a state championship without winning these games. We know every game is important; we take them one at a time.”
West Jordan, which defeated Copper Hills in a play-in game to earn a spot in the state tournament, stuck with the Knights at the start of the game, holding on to a 14-11 deficit with three minutes left in the opening quarter.
But Lone Peak went on a 10-2 run to finish the quarter and never looked back.
Mika finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks, while Nick Emery led all scorers with 22 points, five assists and three steals. TJ Haws reached double digits with 19 points alongside eight assists, and Talon Shumway had 11 points, three boards and a block.
“We’re pretty unselfish,” Mika added. “I think it’s just the way we practice. It translates to the game. We’re unselfish; we like each other, so we don’t care how much we score as long as we win.”
The team hit 12 of 24 3-pointers and shot 60.3 percent from the floor for the game — and the starters only played 25 minutes.
“We just kept looking for open shots. We weren’t settling for bad shots,” Mika said. “We just kept moving it, and it worked out.”
The Jaguars were led by the scoring of Parker Brown, who had 17 points, four boards, three assists and two steals. Brent Beals added 13 points and also had four boards and three assists.
The Knights advance to play Region 1 third-seed Davis High at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday.
“We play a darn good team on Wednesday,” Lewis said. “Jay Welk coaches them well. They’ve got excellent guards. They’ve got big guys. These guys are really good.”
Sarah Thomas is a graduate of the University of Utah and has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008. EMAIL: email@example.com