Layton • The unfamiliar sting still of a loss was fresh as the Wasatch Academy Tigers warmed up on the court before Monday’s game. They exchanged few words. They paid little attention as Layton Christian Academy’s motivational video played on two large screens during player introductions.
Once the Tigers had done what they’d intended to do, and the scoreboard flashed a result they were much more used to seeing, star guard Koby McEwen stood on the baseline and explained.
Storylines Tigerson the reboundWasatch Academy bounces back from its first loss in over a year with a blowout win.
"When we lost that game, it was a heartbreaker," McEwen said of the Tigers’ loss to a top Florida team Saturday in the championship game of the West Anchorage Tournament, the first game they’d dropped in over a year. "We said to ourselves, ‘We can’t win them all.’ We gave it our best, lost by one and that’s OK. But we came back here with the mentality that we can’t lose again. We’ve got to kill everybody."
That mentality was established early Monday. The Tigers quickly took apart Layton Christian Academy 79-38 in their final preseason game before what many expect might be an easy march to the Class 2A state title.
Wasatch Academy players said after the game that the Eagles are good enough to make a deep run in the Class 2A state tournament. Yet an transition offense, spurred by an unyielding pressure defense, had the Tigers up 28 at the half. The gap widened from there.
"We get down and guard and give them no easy shots, get a clean rebound and we’re out," McEwen said. "As far as the pressure goes, that’s just for us to get a spark at the beginning, so it’s tough for the opponent to come back and get momentum."
The defending state champion Tigers, who are loaded with Division-I talent, now begin Region 15 play, where they acknowledge there may be few challenges the rest of the way.
"We try not to get bored during the game," said, McEwen, who had 17 points. "We keep trying to put it down their throats for the whole game."
With so much talent, the Tigers insist they’d love to be put in a higher classification, where blowouts like Monday would be more rare. But until that happens, if it ever does, they say they must simply play the schedule they’re given, one that presents as many internal challenges as external ones.
"It’s kind of hard for us to get up for these type of games," said guard Cody John, who had 13. "But it is what it is. We’re basketball players and this is what we do."
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