Cedar City • Prior to their showdown with the two-time defending state champion South Sevier Rams and one of the best players in the history of Utah high school basketball, the Wasatch Academy Tigers sat and listened to coach Geno Morgan.
He asked his group of players if they trusted him. They said yes. He asked them if they believed in the gameplan going into the 2A semifinal Friday night. They said yes.
Morgan told his Tigers to follow that plan to a T, and if they did that, they'd be in the clear.
"I think they followed it to a T," Morgan said afterward.
Headlined by a unrelenting defensive effort against Rams star Race Parsons and his team, the Tigers punched their ticket to the 2A title game Saturday with their 48-29 win.
Unrelenting is kind.
The Tigers dominated.
The Tigers held Parsons to seven points on 1-of-14 shooting. He didn't score a field goal until a jumper with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and by then Wasatch Academy's gameplan was fool-proof. The Rams shot 27 percent from the field in their lowest scoring output of the season.
"We just beat the defending 2A state champion two years in a row," Morgan said. "I'm trying to let it soak in."
It may take a while.
Wasatch Academy's Eugenio Luzcando was the star of the night, providing nonstop defensive pressure on Parsons while also chipping in a game-high 14 points.
"I don't know what else to say," Morgan said. "He did on both ends. I don't even remember him scoring once or twice. I was so focused on him being a great defender."
Luzcando, a junior from Chile, is relishing his first year at Wasatch Academy, and a chance to play for Morgan.
"I owe everything to my team," he said. "I trust coach always. I knew [the gameplan] was going to work. I knew it."
Koby McEwen and Cody John scored 14 and 12 points respectively for the Tigers in their rout of the defending 2A state champs and were part of the group that helped quell the high-octane South Sevier attack.
"I'll let them get a breather tonight," Morgan said.
The Tigers don't have much time. They face region rival Gunnison for the 2A state crown Saturday, a team they've beaten twice this year.
"It's going to be a tough game," Luzcando said as the Gunnison coaching staff congratulated him. "Same as today."
O Gunnison vs. Wasatch Academy
Saturday, 4 p.m.
At Southern Utah