By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 30 is our countdown of the top 30 stories from the 2015-16 school sports year, beginning with No. 30 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2015-2016 high school sports year was filled with big performances, both team and individual. The act of narrowing down our initial list of top stories for our TOSH Top 30 stories of the year to just 30 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning June 22, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 30 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
No. 21 on our countdown takes us to Mount Pleasant, the home of Wasatch Academy and one of the state’s elite boys basketball programs.
#21 – Wasatch Academy plays in Dick’s Nationals
The last two seasons have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Wasatch Academy boys basketball team. With topnotch players coming to Mount Pleasant from a number of locations, many of them elite performers from Canada, the Tigers have become one of the best teams in the state.
After dominating Class 2A play, and tied to that classification based on enrollment numbers, Wasatch Academy has played the last two seasons as an independent. That means no state championship tournament participation, but it also sends the Tigers all over the country to play a national schedule.
When head coach Geno Morgan died suddenly of a heart attack last summer while traveling on a family vacation, the team faced a challenge not just in finding a new coach, but in replacing the energy Morgan brought to the program. Enter veteran coach Curtis Condie, who led the resilient Tigers to a 29-4 record as they played some of Utah’s tope teams as well as other elite programs from every corner of the United States.
The team’s biggest win was over La Lumiere of Indiana, a Top 15 national program and during the regular season, Wasatch Academy lost just three times, to national powers Findlay Prep from Las Vegas and Montverde Academy, and to the Utah team with the most national presence, Lone Peak. With most of their games being played away from home, the Tigers won 24 road/neutral site contests.
As a reward for its impressive campaign, Wasatch Academy became the first-ever Utah boys basketball team invited to the prestigious Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National tournament in New York. Closing out their season against prestigious Oak Hill Academy from Virginia was a special treat for the Tigers even though their season ended with an 81-64 loss.
Recruiters have discovered Wasatch Academy and its players are getting interest from some outstanding programs. Team-leader Koby McEwen, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, scored nearly 19 points per game this season, while dishing out more than five assists and grabbing nearly five rebounds per game. He will play at Utah State next season.
The Tigers other top senior performer, 6-7 senior forward Jackson Rowe, missed most of his junior year with a knee injury, but returned this season to score nearly 15 per night, with 10 boards per contest. Rowe is headed to Cal State Fullerton to play at the next level.
The cupboard is hardly bare for next year at Wasatch Academy, when 6-5 sophomore Emmanuel Akot will return for his junior year. After scoring seven points per game and pulling down five rebounds this past season, Akot has spent his summer developing his game as a member of the Canadian under-17 national team.
Josip Vrankic, a 6-8 forward who will be a senior next season, was the team’s other double-digit scorer in 2015-16, with nearly 12 points and just over eight boards a game. Another returning senior is 6-6 forward Shamiel Stevenson who scored eight points per contest this season.
Related content (TOSH Top 30 stories of the year):
Here is a story from High School Rewind on Wasatch Academy boys hoops: