Wasatch Academy boys basketball to play in national championship tournament in New York
When Curtis Condie took over as head boys basketball coach at Wasatch Academy last July, he was given a charge by school headmaster Joe Loftin to put his team in position to compete in elite national tournaments.
That desire of Loftin's grew out of the fact that the Tigers had broken off from the UHSAA in 2014 and were free to create their own schedule.
Loftin's dream is certainly being fulfilled, as Wasatch Academy has been named one of eight teams that will compete at the Dick's Sporting Goods Nationals in New York, with the ultimate prize of a championship game that will be played at Madison Square Garden.
The tournament, which will run from March 31-April 2, will feature some of the who's who of high school basketball, including Oak Hill Academy of Virginia, Montverde Prep of Florida and Findlay Prep of Nevada, among others.
All three of those schools have been a training ground for future NBA players.
"They're excited because this is a goal," Condie said of his players. "This is what we want to do. It's like, 'All right, here's our chance.' It doesn't matter who we're going to play. They're just excited to play."
Condie's Tigers, who have compiled a 29-3 record up to this point (24-2 on the road), are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament at No. 19 in the country, but have played three of the squads in the tournament field already this season.
Wasatch Academy beat La Lumiere and suffered losses to Findlay and Montverde.
"There's only eight teams to get invited, and it's an honor to be invited and it's an honor that we're the first ever Utah high school," Condie said.
The Tigers, who are on spring break, will get back to practice March 21 and open the tournament at noon MDT on March 31 against Oak Hill at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, N.Y. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
The winner will play a semifinal game the next day that will be aired on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. MDT. The championship game April 2 at Madison Square Garden will be on ESPN at 10 a.m. MDT.
Ryan McDonald is a sports reporter at DeseretNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanwmcdonald.