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Lone Peak runs to No. 3 spot in the Super 25 Rankings


Lone Peak (West Highland, Utah) had a different offensive style than most of the teams at the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.

Shoot first, ask questions later.

The Knights put Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) back on its heels on Monday, with a fast-paced flurry of three-pointers and jumpers en route to a 81-46 victory. Though most of their shots were from the outside, the Knights shot 50.8% for the game, making 13 of 24 three-pointers.

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"We like to run," said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis. "With as much scouting that is done these days and with as much emphasis is put on defense, if you can get the ball up early and get a good look, that may be the best look you're going to get. Occasionally, you have to swallow a couple you don't like, but I think the kids play better that way, with a little confidence."

The only time the 16-1 Knights lost this season is also the only time they didn't score at least 60 points, as they fell to Montverde (Fla.) Academy 66-45 in the City of Palms Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.

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"We talk a lot about coming out tough and being aggressive," said guard T.J. Haws. "And that's what we did in this game."

The team's offensive style that depends heavily on familiarity. The players stayed together during the AAU season, playing as the Utah Reign, including a trio of players, guards Nick Emery and T.J. Haws and center Eric Mika, who are headed to Brigham Young and have been playing together since the third grade.

"We know each other's game really well and if I get caught, I know T.J.'s in the corner and Eric's down low," Emery said. "We really work well together."

Buried in all the hoopla about the team's shooting is a cagey defense that leads to turnovers.

"We play gap-to-gap defense," Lewis said. "We're not going to go out there and try to deny the ball. We're going to keep them in front and make people make shots. When you play that kind of defense, you have to make sure you block out and that lends itself to transition."

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The takeaway: After watching Simeon (Chicago) and Whitney Young (Chicago), it's hard not to look forward to their meeting Saturday at Chicago State. Simeon (12-2), after some early-season struggles when Jabari Parker was out or  less than 100% with an injured ankle, appears to be peaking. The No. 10 Wolverines  defeated then-No. 10 Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson) 81-68 in the Hoophall. However, so does No. 2 Whitney Young, as the Dolphins (17-1) defeated then-No. 9 Long Beach Poly, 85-52 in the Hoophall.

"We looking forward to the game, for bragging rights," Parker said. "Just to tell them that we're the top dog and it's always going to be that way in the city of Chicago."

Parker's coach, Robert Smith, said Whitney Young is the best team in the country right now.

"I think we're turning the right corner at the right time," Smith said. "I think Whitney Young is the best team in the country right now, by far. We'll have our hands full trying to contain those guys. Their big guy, Jahlil Okafor, is really playing and their supporting cast is really good."

Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @jimhalley.

 

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