I thought it was a good win for our boys. I thought we played well as a team, but there are a lot of things we can still improve on. —Enterprise head coach Larry Shurtliff
RICHFIELD — With the second-highest scoring team in 2A on the schedule, Merit Academy struggled to match up against an extremely prolific Enterprise offense.
The Wolves outscored the Knights by a combined 15 points in the first and fourth quarters to pick up the 62-49 victory and advance to the semifinal game against South Summit. Enterprise is looking to capture its first state title in 26 years.
“I thought it was a good win for our boys,” Enterprise head coach Larry Shurtliff said. “I thought we played well as a team, but there are a lot of things we can still improve on.”
The Wolves jumped out to an early 15-7 lead after the first quarter and kept their lead alive for nearly the entire game thanks to a strong shooting performance and swarming defense.
Enterprise held Merit Academy to just 32 percent shooting in the first half and 40 percent for the game, while shooting the lights out themselves.
“Defensively, they have some great shooters on their team. So, there were a couple of their players who we didn’t want to shoot the ball, so we didn’t sag off those kids and we played them straight up. We just tried to keep them to a one-and-out situation, and we did pretty good with it,” Shurtliff said.
The home team managed to shoot more than 50 percent from the field and just below 45 percent from 3-point land, led by the star-studded play of Justin Prisbrey and a spark from Isaac Wallin, in the impressive offensive performance.
Prisbrey did a little bit of everything and led the way for the Wolves with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting while also securing five rebounds and dishing out five assists.
“He (Prisbrey) was huge for us. He took advantage (of mismatches), he is a great one-on-one player, and he is a great team player, too,” Shurtliff said of his star guard. “When they would collapse on him, he would find the open man and we hit some big shots. That really helped us, and I thought we did really good.”
Wallin came up big for the Wolves, especially down the stretch, as he knocked down all five of his shot attempts — two of which came from beyond the arc — to help Enterprise escape with the victory.
With a six-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter, Enterprise opened up its largest lead of the night in the final eight minutes of the game behind its strong defense, precision passing and impressive free-throw shooting, especially down the stretch.
With the win, the Wolves advance to the 2A semifinals where they will take on the South Summit Wildcats Friday night at 7:30 pm.
“All in all, when it comes down to a state championship, playing those type of games, the physicality and stuff is going to be up a notch. I know South Summit is a really great team, and I hope we will be prepared for them,” Shurtliff said.
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since October 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724