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The Sanpete Messenger

Wasatch boys win at Vivint Smart Arena

Wasatch forward Josip Vrankic drew contact aplenty in a physical game against Layton Christian Academy played at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. The oft-scoring forward was held to nine points by a tough Eagles interior defense. - Matt Harris / Messenger photo
Wasatch forward Josip Vrankic drew contact aplenty in a physical game against Layton Christian Academy played at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. The oft-scoring forward was held to nine points by a tough Eagles interior defense. – Matt Harris / Messenger photo
Wasatch boys win at Vivint Smart Arena

 

Matt Harris

Staff writer

2-9-2017

 

SALT LAKE CITY—It’s not likely that anyone expected the Layton Christian Eagles to hang at all with the No. 1-ranked Tigers, but it happened.

While poor shooting and possession control plagued the Wasatch boys basketball team for 24 minutes of action, the Tigers used a resurgent fourth quarter to shoot down the Eagles’ hopes of pulling off the biggest upset of the year. Finally triumphing over LCA, 65-52, the Tigers won on Utah’s most hallowed basketball court in the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

Junior point guard Damion Squire led all scorers, doing his damage from the line with three three-pointers as part of his 20 points. Junior Emmanuel Akot contributed 13 points, while junior scorer Zion Young netted another 11.

LCA had Wasatch right where they wanted them early on, frustrating every facet of the Tigers’ high-profile offense and finesse with a gritty, turnover-hungry defense. Wasatch’s shooters were Arctic-cold to start the game, missing 11 shots under the basket along with eight misses from the foul line. Their jumpers and faring no better, and the Eagles held an unexpected 14-13 lead at the end of the first.

The second and third quarters played out much the same, with Wasatch’s relatively putrid offense being saved by its own defensive effort. Wasatch led the Eagles, 41-35, going into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers finally found themselves again just in time to blow away Layton Christian in the fourth quarter, 24-17, on the back of a surge of outside shooting efficiency from Squire and Young. The Tigers also would only miss two more of their 24 free-throw attempts for the rest of the game.

“The biggest difference was our effort,” head coach Curtis Condie said. “Layton played really hard tonight. This is like their Super Bowl, until they get to the state tournament, being able to play in this arena. For our guys, it’s just another game. The other difference is that we’ve played so many games this year with a shot clock. I could tell that that affected us on defense.”

The Tigers were treated, courtesy of the Utah Jazz Organization, to seats at the Jazz game against the Charlotte later that night, which Condie saw as a great experience for all involved.

“The biggest thing was being able to go early and see how hard [the Jazz] work to get ready for the game,” Condie said.

There are a few games left on the Tigers’ instate schedule, after which they hope to receive placement in the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Tournament. The Tigers will be at home for their last two games of the season against Kearns and Jordan tomorrow night and Tuesday night at 7 p.m.