Wasatch Academy goes 4-3 in
fight for national standings
By Matt Harris
SPRINGFIELD, VA.—On one hand, a 4-3 record in a seven-game invitational against a slate of teams all contending for a national title is an admirable feat.
One the other, going 0-3 against teams the Tigers are trying to rise to the level of is a dark cloud over an otherwise solid outing.
Wasatch Academy boys’ basketball went 2-2 in its final slate of games against the field of the St. James Invitational, the largest and most prestigious regular-season tournament of the year. The Tigers lost to Sunrise Christian Academy, Kans., 77-68, but defeated Legacy Early College, S.C., 79-60, and Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, Tenn., 71-55. Their showing finally culminated in an honorable 70-59 loss to the undefeated No. 1 team in the nation, Montverde Academy, Fla.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves,” Coach Paul Peterson said of losing to the top teams of the invitational. “Once we get over the anxiety of the name on their jersey, we’ll be able to get over the hump.”
The Tigers losses at the tournament were the only losses they have suffered this season, and they all came against teams inside the top 10 nationally, according to MaxPreps.com.
While senior guard Nolan Hickman paced the Tigers in most games, leading the team against Sunrise Christian and Montverde Academy with 18 and 14 points, respectively, junior guard Richard Isaacs had two of his best games of the year in wins over Legacy and Hamilton Heights.
Against Hamilton Heights, Isaacs hit his first four 3-points and charged his way to 25 points on 8-13 shooting with four assists. He had 20 points in the game before that.
Against Montverde Academy, the Tigers hung tough with the best team in the country and were down by only five points at halftime, 35-30.
In the third quarter, the finesse of the Eagles showed forth as they attacked the middle of the undersized Wasatch defense, leaving senior Fousseyni Traore on an island and going ahead by 15 going into the fourth, a deficit the Tigers just couldn’t repair.
Other than the 14 from Hickman, Traore also had 14 points to go along with five rebounds and a block for the 2022 BYU signee.
Wasatch’s season in previous years would have been totally derailed by three losses to top teams in the same week, but the upcoming Montverde Invitational means that the Tigers have their chance at redemption. Between Jan. 28 and Feb. 6, the Tigers will play La Lumiere, Ind. twice, Oak Hill Academy, Va. twice, and have rematches with Sunrise Christian and Montverde Academy. It will be a make-or-break week of action for the Tigers.