Wasatch Tigers sport 8-0 record, only one of the games was close, 96-94
By Matt Harris
MT. PLEASANT—While the rest of the week looked easy, the Wasatch Academy boys’ basketball team was heavily challenged on their goal to stay undefeated by an upstart Rocky Mountain considered to be the best squad in Idaho.
Nevertheless, the Tigers moved to 8-0 on the season and captured the championship at the Prolook Shootout in Orem after chopping up tournament opponents Queen Creek, Az., 107-49, and Centennial, Nev., 103-50. They then faced off in a nail biter against Rocky Mountain, Idaho, and secured a dramatic victory in double overtime, 96-94.
Prior to the tournament, Wasatch Academy also took down Tooele at home, 113-67.
The Tigers currently lead the entire nation in scoring and are the only team in the country averaging over 100 points per game.
When asked if the Tigers could keep it up, Coach David Evans answered simply. “Hopefully,” he said. “We have a lot of good scorers and shooters, and we love to play up-tempo.”
The Tigers had four double-digits scorers against Tooele as senior BYU commit Richie Saunders scored 20 points on 8-11 shooting. Senior Cincinnati commit Mike Saunders scored 18, senior Utah commit Caleb Lohner scored 16, and junior Fousseyni Traore scored 17.
Against Queen Creek, Lohner erupted for 30 points on 11-13 shooting, while Richie Saunders and Traore each contributed 19 points, and Mike Saunders scored 15 points. Traore netted a double-double with 10 rebounds as well.
Against Centennial, it was sophomore Rickie Isaacs’ turn to dance as he dropped 31 points on 11-16 shooting to lead the team. Lohner followed up with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Mike Saunders scored 13 points, Richie scored 12 and Traore scored 10.
Then came the trophy game.
Wasatch got out to an early lead in the first quarter, 21-17, and the Tigers kept themselves on top going into halftime, 40-37.
The Grizzlies managed to steal some thunder in the third quarter when they took the lead by two going into the final quarter of regulation.
Beginning the fourth quarter, Rocky Mountain stayed hot and opened up a seven-point lead on the Tigers early in the quarter, 73-66. Mike Saunders made two baskets to keep it close.
After a few foul shots by the Grizzlies, the Tigers had had enough, and went on a 13-2 run to retake the lead and create some distance. The Tigers maintained the lead until the very end of the fourth quarter when the Grizzlies buried a 3-pointer to force overtime.
After the first overtime ended, 10-10, Wasatch Academy pulled out in the second overtime to ensure the victory.
Mike Saunders led the team with 25 points backed up by Isaacs’ 24 points. Senior Fresno State commit Leo Colimerio poured in 18 points after several quiet games. Richie Saunders threw in 12 points, and Lohner scored 11.
“Rocky Mountain is a very good team,” Evans said. “We had to continually make adjustments during that game. We changed our offense and defense a few times because they scored so well, and they could really guard.”
Against Desert Oasis last Monday, Mike Saunders led with 27 points as the Tigers pulled away from the Diamondbacks in the fourth quarter, 39-16. Lohner scored 20, Isaacs scored 18, Colimerio scored 12, and junior Brennan Rigsby scored 11.
The Tigers have not yet moved from their position as No. 15 in MaxPreps Xcellent 25 ranking.
Wasatch Academy will be on the road to face Skyline tonight before returning home to face Springville tomorrow night and traveling to Judge Memorial on Saturday. They will then have a holiday break until January.