Byline: Josh Loftin
When this year’s high school basketball season opens Nov. 25, the Wasatch Academy Tigers will begin an unprecedented journey into the ranks of independence.
The two-time defending state 2A champions will not pursue a third championship, opting to play a schedule loaded with top-ranked teams from Utah and throughout North America. They begin the season as the #3 team in the MaxPreps rankings for Utah, trailing only Lone Peak and Bountiful.
The Utah High School Athletics Association approved this year’s move to independence near the end of the last season, marking the first time a team will play as an independent despite having an established and successful program. Wasatch Academy will maintain its status as a full member of the UHSAA and its basketball program remains in good standing with the organization. The school will not have a junior varsity squad, but will have two other boys basketball teams competing in the Utah Schools Sports Association.
Wasatch Academy Coach Geno Morgan said he plans to challenge his team against the best talent in the country and prove his players can compete on a top level. With #3 Findlay Prep and #4 La Lumiere already on their schedule, the Tigers will face multiple teams competing for a national championship.
“I expect a lot of difficult games, which will make us a stronger team and improve the players,” Morgan said. “Our schedule will push the team to excel, and it will go a long ways towards proving our legitimacy on a national level.”
The schedule this year includes invitations to the following tournaments:
- Holiday Hoopsgiving in Atlanta.
- Montverde Academy Invitational in Orlando, hosted by the nation’s top-ranked school.
- Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas. The Tigers will move to the Prep Division this year after winning the Gold Division last year, and will open against Findlay Prep.
- Great Western Shootout in Orem, Utah. The Tigers face Redemption Christian Academy and last year’s tournament champions, Denver East.
- Legacy Tip-off Classic in Las Vegas.
- Bill Crothers S.S. Invitational in Toronto.
As part of the independent arrangement, any team that travels to play Wasatch Academy in Mt. Pleasant — about 90 minutes south of Salt Lake City — will be granted an additional game that season. Most notably, last season’s #1 team, Bountiful, will play at the Tigers, as well as West, Salem Hills, Emery, Layton Christian Academy and others.
Last season, the Tigers finished ranked 5th by the Deseret News among all schools in the state. They compiled a record of 26–1, with their only loss to a team from Dillard, Fla., in the finals of the Alaska Airlines Classic on Anchorage. Along with their 2A state championship, Wasatch Academy won the Las Vegas Legacy Classic and the championship of the Gold division in the Tarkanian Classic.
The Tigers return two starting guards from last year’s team, senior Cody John and junior Koby McEwan. Both players are Canadian and have been recruited by Division 1 programs. Other key players returning to the team are senior forward August Navickas and sophomore guard Bryson Langdon.
For more information, please contact Josh Loftin at 801-419-6891.