Wasatch Academy national team
takes first loss, 101-59
By Matt Harris
HONOLULU, HAWAII—The Wasatch Academy Tigers undefeated season was tainted in the matter of a single quarter of basketball.
After a spectacular run to the ‘Iolani Prep Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, last week, Wasatch Academy boys’ hoops saw a close game with nationally-ranked Oak Hill Academy fall apart as the Warriors outscored the Tigers, 22-9, in the third quarter to knock them from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Wasatch Academy played an entertaining and eclectic schedule leading up to the title match, first starting with an interesting matchup against Tsinghua University High School from Beijing, China.
The Tigers smashed the international guests, 101-59. Sophomore Ricky Isaacs stole the show with a team-high 21 points on 8-12 shooting, while seniors Richie Saunders and Caleb Lohner scored 18 and 16 points, respectively. Junior Fousseyni Traore scored 10 points.
After the first round, the Tigers faced significantly stiffer competition the rest of the week, starting with a matchup against Archbishop Wood, Penn., another nationally-ranked squad.
Wasatch got the Vikings’ number early with a 28-17 first quarter lead and held on to the finish, extending it out a little more at the end. The game was close enough that only six players scored points for the Tigers.
It was a night to be had by Lohner as the future Utah Ute exploded for 29 points on 10-16 shooting while also grabbing nine boards. Richie Saunders backed it up with 17 points while senior Mike Saunders scored 15, and senior Leo Colimerio scored 13.
The next two games proved the most difficult games offensively of the season so far as the Tigers then took on Long Island Lutheran, New York, in a semifinal matchup. For the first time in Wasatch Academy’s season, the Tigers were losing at the end of the first quarter, an 18-17 deficit to the Crusaders.
After the first quarter, Wasatch quickly turned on the heat and shut the east coast team down. After two more quarters of action, the Tigers had a 16-point lead. Long Island Lutheran trimmed it down to 10 before the end.
Five players scored in double figures for the Tigers despite the team shooting 39 percent overall. Lohner led with 14 points while both Colimerio and Isaacs scored 13 points. Mike and Richie Saunders each scored 11 apiece.
Against Oak Hill, the Tigers against struggled on offense against a talented top-tier squad. Down by 3 points at halftime, 40-37, Wasatch Academy went ice cold in the third quarter while the Warriors stayed hot. Though Wasatch outscored Oak Hill in the final quarter, 22-14, it wasn’t enough to stave off the inevitable.
Mike Saunders led the team in the loss with 22 points, and Isaacs contributed 19 points. While Richie Saunders and Lohner were kept very quiet all game, Traore came out for his best game of the season, netting 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Wasatch Academy ends 2019 with a 15-1 record, having played the whole season up to this point without star center Mady Sissoko. Coach David Evans report via text that he hopes to see Mady back on the court in less than two weeks, possibly in time for the Tigers’ upcoming game on Jan. 3 against Roman Catholic.