Playing in a nationally-televised game in the birthplace of basketball, the Lone Peak Knights put on a show that would have made Dr. James Naismith proud.
Lone Peak, playing its final out-of-state game of the 2012-13 season at the Spalding Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield, Mass., annihilated two-time defending California state champion Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) 81-46 Monday morning in a game televised on ESPNU.
"It was a special deal to play in this thing," said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis. "The schools they have back here at this are the best in the country. We were glad to be able to have an invite."
Per usual, the Knights did exactly what they do best in the dominating win over the Monarchs.
They pestered their opponents defensively for 32 straight minutes, got out and ran in transition and drilled shot after shot from behind the arc. In all, the Knights drained 13 3-pointers eight of which came in the first half en route to the big win over Mitty and star forward Aaron Gordon, who scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Senior guard Conner Toolson won Player of the Game honors with his team-high 22-point performance, including going 6-of-6 from 3-point land.
"No doubt that's a confidence builder for him," Lewis said. "He's capable of that. It wasn't surprising."
Nick Emery finished with 20 points and five rebounds, while junior star TJ Haws had 18 points, six rebounds and five steals in the win. Lone Peak center Eric Mika finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.
"I thought we really shared the ball well and played with really good balance," Lewis said.
While the crowd in Springfield was enamored by the tremendous athleticism shown by Gordon on several highlight-reel dunks, the story of the day was the Knights, who improved to 15-1.
In five national tournaments this season, the Knights went 8-1 against some of the best teams in the country. In those eight victories, Lone Peak's average margin of victory was 23 points per game.
Despite falling to Montverde Academy in the championship game of the City of Palms Classic tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., in late December, the Knights defeated Proviso East (Chicago, Ill.), Foothill (Henderson, Nev.), Denver East (Denver, Colo.), Callaway (Callaway, Miss.), Chester (Chester, Pa.), Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.), Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) and, on Monday morning, Archbishop Mitty was the latest victim.
"That's what we wanted as we entered into the season," Lewis said, "we wanted to play as good of teams we could out of state. We think it helped push us to be the team we've become."
Going forward, Lone Peak has nothing but Utah on its mind. The Knights return home and have a very quick turnaround against region rival Bingham Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Highland.
Lewis said during spring and summer tournaments the team has played games day-of after flying into certain destinations, but never going from playing at a top-flight tournament like the Hoop Hall Classic then catching a cross-country plane ride home to face a region rival.
"We know we have to bring focus into this one," Lewis said.