The Lone Peak Knights are guilty guilty of being the best team in Utah, and, by the looks of things, those aiming to keep up are hurtling toward a fruitless venture.
Playing just their second home game of the season, the Knights, ranked No. 2 in the nation by MaxPreps.com, walloped visiting Riverton 70-40 to improve to 11-1 this season and, more importantly, 1-0 in Region 4 play.
"We were itching to get back, and I think we were kind of rusty and a little nervous," said center Eric Mika, who finished with 15 points and a number of highlight dunks.
If there was rust or nerves, they were hard to spot.
Lone Peak dominated from the start, jumping out to a 21-5 lead in the first quarter before cruising past the Silverwolves by implementing its traditional suffocating defense, turning turnovers into offense.
The polar opposite of rust and nerves was on display early in the second quarter when Emery, who scored a game-high 26 points and drilled five 3-pointers, created something that resembled a play from a vintage NBA reel.
He first anticipated a pass, deflecting the ball as he and a Riverton player converged on the suddenly loose ball. Emery arrived first, corralling the ball as the Silverwolves defender helplessly fell to the court.
Emery, in slow motion, put the ball around his back, looked up and found a streaking Mika, who was one-on-one with the basket.
His thunderous right-handed slam shook the basket's reinforcements.
"We just wanted to get the momentum going," Emery said. "That's what we want in that situation. … Eric can jump."
With the Knights already up 13 points, that play set a tone for the rest of the evening as Emery, Mika and junior TJ Haws, who finished with 14 points, asserted themselves on the offensive end.
"You've kind of got to pick your poison," said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis.
Riverton's Stephan Holm finished with a team-high 20 points and drilled five 3-pointers to lead the Silverwolves, now 8-6, in the loss.
Wednesday was the first time the Knights had played in the last 18 days, the last being their 66-45 loss to Montverde Academy in the City of Palms Classic championship game in Fort Myers, Fla., on Dec. 22.
Lewis said he enjoyed the break after playing such an arduous early-season schedule, spending time with his family and celebrating the holidays.
"I sat on the couch," he laughed, "and watched football."
Now, the Knights head back out on the road, this time to face Wesleyan Christian Academy out of High Point, N.C., Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Brandon Jennings Invitational in Milwaukee, Wisc.
"It's good to win a region game," Lewis said, "and we can't overlook that. But [Wesleyan] has some guys. They have some really good guys."
Storylines Knights 70, Silverwolves 40
R Nick Emery leads Lone Peak's rout with 26 points.