Tigers go to nationals, fall to top-ranked La Lumiere
LA LUMIERE, Ind.—A season of new heights came to its end for Wasatch Academy last Thursday, March 30.
Wasatch Academy’s boys’ basketball team, ranked No. 1 in Utah and No. 15 nationally, fell in the first round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Tournament, 64-52, to La Lumiere, the top seed in the tournament and the eventual champion.
A tight game went entirely in La Lumiere’s favor from halftime onward.
“We had a chance,” senior forward Josip Vrankic said. “They went on a huge run. We tried our hardest. We just couldn’t find our way back. We just needed one push. One extra stop. One shot. One rebound. And we didn’t get it.”
The Tigers ended their season with a record of 23-5, having gone undefeated against Utah teams, undefeated on their home court, and at one point scoring 100-plus points in two games.
So despite the loss last week, head coach Curtis Condie could not be more delighted with the team’s success.
“I love [these boys], and I’m so proud of them and so lucky to be their coach,” Condie said. “We are a top-20 program for two years in a row, and we will hopefully always stay there.”
The Tigers had trouble with the No. 2-ranked La Lumiere Lakers from the get-go, never managing to establish an offensive rhythm in the face of La Lumiere’s stifling defense.
The first quarter stayed close as Wasatch held a slim 11-9 lead after one quarter of action that featured abysmal shooting for both teams. The Tigers held the Lakers to 3-for-17 shooting from the floor in the first quarter.
The script quickly took a new turn at the beginning of the second as La Lumiere took their cue of a three-point make to go on a 17-5 run that put the Lakers in the driver’s seat.
Down 26-16 at halftime, the Tigers consistently tried to make up the difference to get back in the game. At one point in the third, they cut the lead to six, but a 5-0 run from the Lakers snuffed it out and kept WAcad down for the rest of the game.
Wasatch’s offense never got into the swing of things, shooting a paltry 26.7 percent from the floor, unable to overcome a great defense that kept La Lumiere to a 36-percent clip for the night.
Vrankic and junior guard Emmanuel Akot led the offensive effort as Vrankic scored 10 points with 14 rebounds, and Akot 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Now with their season capped, WAcad is looking to the future, having attained national recognition for two years running.
“We will build off of this year to keep this program moving in the right direction,” Condie said. “We have really appreciated over the last couple of years how the community has bought in to this program becoming their team and coming out to support. …Now we will take the next step to consistently become not just a top-20 program in the country, but a top-10 program.”