Wasatch wins followed by 75-63 loss to Findlay Prep
MT. PLEASANT—Despite a great deal of promise in early season results, the nationally-ranked Wasatch Academy boys basketball team is discovering their faults early and compensating in a hurry.
A team which has had only seven games so far, and is used to near-undefeated seasons year after year, suffered its second loss of this season. The Tigers fell 75-63 to high school powerhouse Findlay Prep, Nev. in a hyped contest at Southern Utah University.
Rebounding was the gaping hole in the Tiger offensive effort. Findlay shredded the Wasatch frontcourt, grabbing 26 offensive rebounds to get extra points through second chances and continuing drives.
Wasatch was led by a solid performance from their top three players. Junior Damion Squire led all scorers with 17 points, with Emmanuel Akot and Josep Vrankic netting 15 points each.
Not to be let down for long, the Tigers rebounded on Friday and Saturday with lopsided victories over the Academy of Sports Science, Calif., and Timpanogos by scores of 79-37 and 83-58, respectively.
Against the Academy of Sports Science, Wasatch made it obvious that they had learned their lesson from Findlay by shutting down the Reign’s offense. On the other end, Wasatch outscored the Reign with only two players. Vrankic led all scorers with 24 points, while senior Jeff Baradziej chipped in 14.
By the second half, the Reign could barely score at all against the stout Tiger defense. 6’8” freshman Mady Sissoko became a brick wall at center in the fourth quarter. With only two years since he first learned the game, Sissoko finished with several blocks and nine points on offense and was the biggest reason the Reign only managed three points in the final quarter.
“We played hard,” Wasatch Head Coach Curtis Condie said. “Defensively, we stopped ‘em. The biggest thing is that [Academy] only got one possession. We defended, they shot it; we got the rebound, and we went the other way.
The success on defense continued with Wasatch’s first instate matchup of the season against Timpanogos in an 83-57 stomping. Timpanogos only managed eight offensive rebounds all game long.
Vrankic lit it up once again with 29 points to compensate for a quiet six-point night from Squire. Vrankic, the senior, was one of four double-digit scorers for Wasatch, who got 11 points each from Akot, and contributors Michael Okafor, a senior, and Bernardo DaSilva, a sophomore.
The Timberwolves got a 23-point night out of sophomore Matt Norman, who hit five three-pointers.
“Timpanogos is a team that was averaging 90.5 pts in its two games, we held them to 57,” Condie said. “Defense was key for us. They try to play fast and crazy and create a tempo that will fatigue you with their chaos. The guys played with passion and very hard! Our strength and conditioning program really showed against them.”
Wasatch Academy has three big games coming up as they will participate in the FreetaxUSA.com Shootout, one of the premier preseason tournaments in Utah, at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse. Though the tournament is held in Orem, the Tigers will host their first opponent, Lone Peak, at home tonight at 7 p.m. before heading to Orem to take on Wakefield, Va., tomorrow at 5 p.m. Their opponent for Saturday’s game in the shootout remains to be determined.