West Valley City
The overachieving Brighton Bengals asked for this. Their punishment for knocking off American Fork and eventually qualifying for Saturday’s Class 5A state championship game came immediately and harshly.
First quarter: Nick Emery 13, Brighton 10.
Halftime: T.J. Haws 22, Brighton 17.
Final score: Haws/Emery 40, Brighton 38 — and the Bengals ultimately came that close only because Lone Peak’s BYU-committed guards missed their last few shots and Knights coach Quincy Lewis was reasonably kind, slowing down the game and gradually removing his starters after the lead grew to 41 points midway through the third quarter.
This is not about making fun of Brighton, after the Knights’ 68-38 victory made a mockery of the title matchup at the Maverik Center. In repeating, Lone Peak was just that good.
The only Utah teams that beat the Knights this season were 4A champion Orem and American Fork, which seemingly was ticketed to another meeting in the final, only to fall to Brighton in the quarterfinals. We’ll never know if the Cavemen could have made things more interesting Saturday.
What’s clear is that from the opening three minutes, when the emotional Emery was delivering three 3-pointers, Brighton was overwhelmed. Then came Haws’ explosive second quarter, giving the Knights a 47-17 lead.
Anyone who’s expecting to see much of former BYU guard Jackson Emery in his younger brother actually gets more of Matt Carlino — in facial features, left-handed shooting and personality. Haws is a more slender and red-haired version of his older brother, Tyler, a Cougar guard who’s serving a church mission.
Between them, Emery and Haws went 12 for 21 in the first half, making seven 3-pointers.
Something resembling that performance occurred about 100 days ago, when Lone Peak quarterback Chase Hansen racked up 398 yards of total offense and accounted for four touchdowns — in the first half of the state championship football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Yet that day, the Knights led Fremont only 28-13 at halftime. This game was long over at a similar stage, thanks to Lone Peak’s dominating effort.
With three basketball starters from the football team — Hansen, Talon Shumway and Brody Berry — Lone Peak joined Hunter (2003-04) as the only schools with dual championships in the same academic year in the 20-year history of 5A. Matt Asiata, Otis Nelson and Cole Evans were Hunter’s two-sport stars.
“It keeps getting better,” said Hansen, who graciously was not about to compare his first-half showing against Fremont to what Emery and Haws did against Brighton.
“I’m not even close to those guys,” said Hansen, who will play football for Utah.
Whether anybody around here can touch the Knights next season, when Emery is a senior, or the following year, when Haws is a senior, is highly questionable.
All that could potentially derail Lone Peak’s dynasty is a sense of entitlement, which Emery promises is not an issue.
“We’re the hardest-working program in the state, by far,” Emery said. “People just think we’re Lone Peak and we’re blessed with talent. No. We’re in the gym every day, working hard.”
Actually, Emery also plays golf, and he helped the Knights win a state championship in October 2010. So his total of three titles matches the senior football/basketball players’ haul, with the strong possibility of more to come.
When the nets were cut, just before the Knights boarded their bus to Utah County and the arena workers dismantled the basketball floor, Emery was thinking about a three-peat. Haws, meanwhile, just laughed when someone asked him about being halfway to four titles in his career, but he won’t be kidding around next March.