Byline: Josh Loftin
The Wasatch Academy Independent boys basketball team defended their title in Legacy Tipoff Classic, held Dec. 4–6 in North Las Vegas. The Tigers won the Financial Bracket of this tournament last year.
The Tigers won all four games by 20 points or more. The opponents included teams from Nevada and California.
The Tigers best victory came in the semifinals, when they defeated Centennial (Las Vegas) 73-50. Centennial boasts the #2 sophomore in the country in Troy Brown and has aspirations of finally toppling their long-time rival and national powerhouse, Bishop Gorman.
Cody John received tournament MVP honors, and Koby McEwan was named to the all-tournament team. The two guards carried the team for most of the tournament.
Below are capsules for the four games.
Dec. 4: Wasatch Academy vs. Faith Lutheran Academy (Las Vegas) By the end of the first quarter, the Tigers had this game under control. They forced turnovers from the outset, leading to highlight reel jams from Koby McEwan, Cody John and Jackson Rowe during the first eight minutes. They never relented, leading 22–7 after one quarter and taking the double-down for quarter 2 by ending the half 44–14. They eventually won 74–31. (Stats)
Rowe led the team with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists. John also had 18 points along with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block, while McEwan had 17 points.
Outside of the stat sheet, the Tigers did all of the little things that make them a great team: withering defense, endless energy, constant hustle.
The Tigers face the Sierra Vista Mountain Lions (Las Vegas) in the second round of the tournament. Game time is 8:15 p.m. Pacific time and it will be streamed on High School Cube (game link) and Local TV 10.
Dec. 5: Wasatch Academy vs Sierra Vista
Like they did in their first round game, the Tigers blew out of the gate. Early turnovers and hot shooting in the first quarter gave them a 22-7 lead after one, and by halftime they had built it to 41-19.
With an early afternoon matchup against high-powered Centennial looming Saturday, the Tigers leaned more heavily on their reserves in the second half. They eventually won going away, 73-36.
The Tigers move to the semifinals, against Centennial, in what likely qualifies as the de facto championship. While Centennial has two seniors already committed to Division 1 programs (Garrett Scheer, #20, to Air Force and Darrian Taylor, #24, to UC-Irvine), they have a generally young team. They are led by Troy Brown, a 6’5″ sophomore who ESPN has listed as the second-best sophomore in the country — and possibly the third-best player overall in the country.
The game will be streamed starting at 1 p.m. Pacific time. If the Tigers win, they play the championship at 7 p.m., and if they lose they play for the 3rd place at 5:30 p.m.