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Mady Sissoko (No. 44) grabs a rebound for Wasatch Academy in their victory over Mountain View High School, 75-38. The game was part of the Utah County Invite, which was held on Nov. 21-22 in Orem at the UCCU Center on the campus of Utah Valley University.

 

No. 1 Utah-ranked Wasatch Tigers

start season with impressive wins

By James Tilson

Staff writer

Nov. 30, 2017

 

MT. PLEASANT—A team of Tigers is loose in Mt. Pleasant, hungry to win basketball games.

And if their coach has his way, they will be making noise on the national stage by the season’s end.

Wasatch Academy has built a powerhouse in boys basketball over the last five years, and, according to Coach Curtis Condie, this will be the “most talented group of players he’s had so far.”

His team is loaded with players ranked in the top 100 in the nation: Seniors Damion Squire, Matt Bradley and Bryan Penn-Johnson: juniors Tyrese Samuel and Marvin “Tre” Williams III; and sophomore Mady Sissoko. In addition, Bernardo Da Silva and Leonardo Colimerio are both ranked as top players from Brazil.

These players came to Wasatch because of two important factors, says Condie: “They wanted a very good academic school, with a very good basketball team, and that’s us.”

This year, the Wasatch Academy Tigers are ranked the No. 1 team in the state of Utah, and, according to USA Today, the 15th ranked high school boys basketball team in the nation.

Not only that, Condie turns out players who are sought out and perform on the college level. Bradley and Squire have already signed the national Letter of Intent to play for Division I college basketball teams next year, and Penn-Johnson is being pursued by several national collegiate powers, including UCLA.

Former players who have gone on to the college ranks have had success. Two players from last year became Freshman Player of the Year: Koby McEwan at Utah State in the Mountain West Conference and Jackson Rowe at Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Conference. According to Condie, “We’re the first school ever to have two graduates go to separate conferences and become freshman of the year.”

Condie and his team are looking forward to playing some of the best teams in the country this year.

In December, the Tigers will travel to Arizona to face Apollo High School, which was ranked the No. 1 team in 5A in Arizona last year.

The Tigers will also travel to California to face Heritage Christian, St. Francis and Taft High School.

But the biggest test of the season will be the Bass Pro Shop basketball tournament in January in Springfield, Mo. Condie says this is the “premier in-season tournament in the country.”

The ultimate goal for the Tigers is at the end of the year—the Dick’s Sporting Goods National High School Championship Tournament.

This tournament pits eight of the highest ranked teams in the country against each other to eventually crown the national champion. Wasatch Academy has been in the tournament each of the last two years, but the Tigers have not been able to get out of the first round so far.

According to Condie, their expectations are different this year: “We are tired of not winning the entire championship, and this year is our year to shine.”

Before the season, Condie said of his team, “If they’ll learn to defend and rebound, and execute on offense, we have a chance to be very, very good.”

The Tigers competed last week in the Utah County Invite in Orem on the campus of Utah Valley University.

In their first game against Mountain View High School, they beat the Bruins by a score of 75-38. Bradley led all scorers with 20 points, with Squire chipping in 16 points.

In the second game, against Utah 6A school Herriman High School, the Tigers did indeed “defend and rebound,” winning by a score of 63-28. The Tigers held the Mustangs to only 12 points in the entire first half, and no points at all in the third quarter.

“I think the hard work is showing as we held Mountain View and Herriman, both quality, hard-playing teams, to less than 40 points,” said Condie.

Condie has been able to attract talent to Mt. Pleasant in part because of the many connections he has built over an 18-year coaching career, mostly spent at the college levels. Condie spent time at Utah State, Snow College, Northern Arizona University, Louisiana Tech and Utah Valley University as an assistant, Texas A&M International and Central Wyoming College as a head coach and then South Sevier High School and Wasatch High School before coming to Wasatch Academy.

Utah Valley University was Condie’s last stop before he came to Wasatch.

Condie said he was convinced to come to Wasatch Academy by Headmaster Joe Lofton and Athletic Director Ty Kennedy. They explained to Condie their vision for Wasatch to have a boys basketball team that was nationally ranked year after year.

And that vision has turned into reality.

The Tigers’ first home games will be on Dec. 4 and 5. The Tigers will face American Leadership Academy on Dec. 4 and Merit Preparatory Academy on Dec. 5. Both games will start at 7 p.m.