Wasatch Academy advances in tourney, but fails to bat No. 1 team in nation by one point
By Matt Harris
CUMBERLAND, MD—Wasatch Academy boys hoops was all of two points away from making the whole country forget about the Montverde Invitational.
After a dismal showing last week where the Tigers fell out of the national rankings, Wasatch Academy took out their frustration on Mercersburg Academy, 105-44, in the first game of the Bob Kirk Invitational in Maryland. The Tigers followed it up by taking the best team in the nation, No. 1 La Lumiere, to the wire and nearly shocking the nation. Alas, the Tigers fell just short against the Lakers, 53-52, in another frustrating marquee loss for the program.
Wasatch bounced back with an 83-50 win over the hosts, Bishop Walsh Academy, to close out the weekend with a 23-3 overall record.
La Lumiere was as good as advertised as the Lakers held the lead over Wasatch Academy for most of the game. Tiger player Leonardo Colimerio, a junior, scored on a midrange jumper, his only points of the game, as time expired to finish the third quarter and narrow La Lumiere’s lead to 46-35.
To open the fourth quarter, junior Richie Saunders called his own number and buried a long 3-pointer to cut the lead to single-digits. That was all part of a 9-0 run for Wasatch that cut the Lakers’ lead to four points, 46-42, before La Lumiere got to the line for free throws on the next possession.
After La Lumiere extended the lead to five at the line, junior Mike Saunders took the ball to the top of the key and let loose, burying a gutsy 3-point shot in his defenders face to make it a one-possession game, 47-45.
Mady Sissoko delivered from midrange again to tie it up at 47, a 14-1 Tiger run. After La Lumiere got another bucket, Saunders attacked again, charging full speed for the rim, but kicked it out to Richie Saunders right at the baseline who buried a three to give the Tigers a 50-49 lead with a minute and a half remaining. Saunders went straight for the hoop on the next possession and extended the lead to 52-49.
The deficit with 30 seconds remaining forced La Lumiere to play the game of fouls. A bad inbounds play gave the Lakers a foul and free throws. La Lumiere’s post man buried both to make it a 1-point game, and the Lakers fouled senior Tre Williams to send him to the line.
That was when it unraveled.
Williams missed the free throw, and La Lumiere drove down the lane to draw another foul. Against what they had done all game long, La Lumiere buried both free throws again to take the lead. When Williams missed the game-winner off the backboard, the Tigers’ dream fell short.
Saunders led the Tigers in scoring with 17 points on 7-12 shooting, while Williams notched 10 points. Altogether, Wasatch Academy shot 34 percent from the field.
Prior to their game against La Lumiere, the Tigers had five players in double figures against Mercersburg. Unheralded sophomore Fousseyni Traoré and Sissoko led with 14 apiece while Saunders, Williams, and future BYU Cougar Bernardo Da Silva each scored 13.
Against Bishop Walsh, senior Tristan Enaruna led the Tigers with 18 points. Saunders scored 16, Sissoko had 12, Richie Saunders had 11 and junior Caleb Lohner scored 10.
Wasatch Academy plays one more game on the road during the regular season, traveling Feb. 9 to face No. 8 Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kans.