Any time you've got good players playing against good players, you want to try to rise to the occasion a little bit. ... I really thought that's what he did tonight. —Kelby Miller, Layton coach
ROY — In a promising matchup between two of the best big men in the state, it was Layton High's "little guys" who made the biggest difference.
Layton 6-foot-7 junior Jarriesse Blackmon battled to a virtual standoff against Roy 6-foot-8 senior Brekkott Chapman, who has committed to play his college basketball at the University of Utah. Blackmon scored a game-high 20 points, seven of them coming in a key second-quarter surge that swung the game in Layton's favor, while Chapman overcame some early foul trouble to score 15 points for the Royals.
But the real difference-makers were Layton's lightning-quick guard duo of 5-10 senior Malcom Petty and 6-foot sophomore Julian Blackman, who keyed a ball-hawking perimeter defense that gave Roy fits by forcing numerous turnovers in the Lancers' 64-52 preseason victory at Ted Smith Gymnasium.
Petty scored 11 points and 6-9 senior center Mike Hibbert had nine for Layton, while Julian Blackmon and Austin Hatch had six points apiece and Brandon Hill had five more as the Lancers ran their record to 8-3 in their final tune-up before the start of Region 1 play next week.
"Everybody when they think of us, they think of Mike and Jarriesse, and rightfully so," Layton coach Kelby Miller said of his two big men. "But our role guys, our guys around them, they do their jobs and they do 'em pretty good.
"Malcom Petty, Julian Blackmon, Caleb Harrop, Dallin Watts and those guys who I have coming in, they do a pretty good job defensively getting after people. It wasn't anything too special. They were just applying some one-on-one pressure.
"We're trying to get the ball up and down the floor and trying to be exciting, and the kids like playing that style," Miller said. "So that's what we try to do."
Coach Miller felt like Jarriesse Blackmon, knowing the challenge that he faced in this big-man battle between two slender southpaws, stepped his game up accordingly.
"Any time you've got good players playing against good players, you want to try to rise to the occasion a little bit," Miller said, "and I really thought that's what he did tonight."
"I know he's an amazing player," Jarriesse Blackmon said of Chapman, "and who doesn't want to come out here and prove against the best player ... probably in the state — no disrespect to (Lone Peak's) TJ Haws — who doesn't want to come out here and prove them wrong?
"It was especially an honor for me to be able to guard him tonight, a big honor. I just wanted to make my seniors proud, obviously, and just come out and win the game for the team and get us to 8-3.
"Our guards, man, they're going to be the reason why we win region. They're going to be the reason we go to state," Jarriesse Blackmon said. "Them playing the way they did tonight was huge. Me and Brekkott was kind of a standoff, and I'm glad to have this big guy right here, big Mike (Hibbert), to help me out so I'm not by myself. I'm just glad that we have the team that we do to be able to get the win that we did tonight."
But after jumping out to quick 9-0 lead out of the starting gate, the Royals succumbed to a pair of second-quarter scoring spurts that lifted the Lancers into a double-digit lead.
Try as they might, Roy never got closer than eight points the rest of the way, as some shaky 2 of 6 foul shooting in both the second and fourth quarters stalled its comeback bid.
"We came out after playing in a tournament, four games in five days, and I think that kind of affected our start a little bit," Miller said. "We were able able to bounce back, made a few adjustments, and the kids did a good job. We changed up defenses right there and it got us going a little bit."
After Roy's fast 9-0 start, Petty fueled a 12-3 run that pulled Layton within 14-12 at the first stop. Julian Blackmon sparked an 8-0 run to start the second quarter that gave the Lancers the lead, and after Chapman scored on a pair of drives sandwiched around a jumper by Hibbert, Jarriesse Blackmon scored seven points in an 11-2 spurt that spread Layton's lead to double digits at 33-20.
Poor foul shooting prevented Roy from trimming the deficit, and Harrop hit two free throws after the halftime buzzer had sounded that boosted the Lancers' lead to 40-26 at intermission.
Chapman and Nalder brought Roy back in the third period, and Roy cut the gap to eight points at 48-40 on a pair of free throws by spark plug Cody Hobbs. But the Blackmon brothers, Hatch, Hibbert and Petty took turns making key plays down the stretch to keep Layton comfortably ahead until the final buzzer.