The Wasatch Academy Tigers may have earned a No. 1 ranking, but coach Geno Morgan knows that doesn't mean much come Wednesday night.
"Wasatch Academy has never won a first-round game," said Morgan, who is in his second season coaching the private boarding school in Mount Pleasant. "That's the only game I'm concerned about right now."
The Tigers take on Piute at 7 p.m. in the first round of the 1A State Tournament at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield. Morgan had a rude awakening last year when the Tigers entered the tournament with an 18-1 record.
"We hadn't played anybody," he said. "Our schedule didn't prepare us. We weren't tough enough."
Morgan took care of that by scheduling the toughest teams he could in non-region play.
"This year we're battle tested," he said. "We played Rich at Rich, Piute at Piute; we played Bryce Valley, Milford and we played 5A's Copper Hills and 4A's Westlake. I think this year's schedule has really prepared us for state."
The team is led by junior Jarryn Skeete, who averages 16.75 points per game. Evaldas Aniulis adds nearly 12 points per game and Fred Krajacic contributes 12.25 points per game.
"Jarryn is a special player in the sense that he doesn't have an ego to the point that it's all about me," said Morgan. "He's such a team player. He's a star without the big head."
Piute may enter the tournament as a No. 4 seed, but they're ranked No. 4 in the state. The T-birds are led by Kelton Price, who averages 20.5 points per game.
The Tigers defeated Piute earlier this season, but they have three losses — to Bryce Valley, Westlake and Liahona. The Tigers avenged their region loss to Liahona in the tie-break game last week.
The No. 2 ranked team is Monticello. The Buckaroos have only three losses — to a Colorado school, San Juan (2A) and Liahona. The squad is led by Dallin Duncan, who averages 14.43 points, Devin Wright, who averages 11.76 points, and Cory Young, who averages 11.05 points. Monticello opens the tournament with a tough opponent in Region 20's Valley High School. The Buffaloes are led by Lance Maxwell, who averages 20 points per game.
Ranked No. 4 is Bryce Valley, the defending 1A state champs. Led by Kace Roundy, who averages 18.6 points per game, the team proved they are more than a one-man show last season. Jake Pearson adds 13.4 points per game, while Eddie Dunham contributes 8.7 points per game. The Mustangs open the tournament with Duchesne.
The fifth-ranked team is Rich High. The Rebels' girls basketball team won the 1A title two weeks ago and the boys will be looking to do the same this week. The Rebels have plenty of offensive weapons with Kayden Calder, who averages nearly 20 points per game, Parker Stuart, who adds 12.29 points per game, and Brent Wallentine, who averages 5.8 points per game.
The Rebels take on Panguitch in the first round of play Wednesday.
Green River, Liahona, ICS and Tabiona could all make a run for the title as well this season.
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