Before last Tuesday, the Wasps hadn’t played a game at The Nest since. Participating in two holiday tournaments and a bit of a spread-out schedule due to the holidays had kept the black and gold off the court.
What better way to get back into the swing of things than with a home contest against former 3A rival Park City, especially after the Miners embarrassed Wasatch in the Tip-Off Classic in Provo just a couple of weeks ago.
In front of a packed house, inside the friendly confines of its home gym, the Wasps started 2014 on the right foot and put a 66-54 whipping on Park City.
With the local student body clad in gear as if shooting a commercial for farmersonly.com, Wasatch controlled the game from the tip-off and kept its foot on the accelerator until the final buzzer sounded.
In his first home game of the season, missing the first game with a hand injury, senior guard Jackson Gordon scorched the visitors with 26 points. The sharp-shooter found his stroke early connecting on four of six three-point attempts. “It’s just so fun to play here,” Gordon said. “I love playing in front of our home crowd. I get really fired up.”
“We lost to these guys a couple weeks ago and that was tough because we knew we could beat them. It was good to get the chance to make it up,” he added.
The Wasps played the game at a furious pace and were aggressive on defense. 17-team steals and 29 deflections created chance after chance for the home team to score off the fast break.
Wasatch moved the ball fluidly and found the open man all night, especially the hot hands of Gordon and fellow senior Casey Peterson. The 6-4 center scored 15 points, nailing a pair of three-pointers, and added five boards and four steals.
Pouring in 14-points and dishing out four assists, was senior point guard Jeff Murdock, who is getting back into the groove after a pre-season ankle injury slowed him the first month of the campaign.
In addition to the big scoring nights by Gordon, Peterson and Murdock, the three were stellar from the free-throw line hitting 19-21 attempts.
“We played so much better tonight than we have,” said a pleased first-year head coach Jason Long. “We’ve used the off time to practice hard and I think that’s what we needed. It showed on both ends tonight. By far—way far, our best offensive play of the year.”
Wasatch would get the opportunity to show the big win was not just a fluke in less than 24 hours of the Park City team bus rolling out of town.
On Wednesday, Ben Lomond took its turn occupying the visitor’s bench and took it on the chin 51-36.
Despite a smaller, and less energetic crowd on hand, the Wasps still put on a show. It was another big night on defense for Wasatch who jumped on the Scots and never let them in the game.
Gordon and Murdock again came to play and scored 13 points apiece for Wasatch. Both senior guards hit three, three-pointers.
The highlight of the offense in this game was the strong play by junior forward Nate Dow. Dow, who started the season hot in the first three games—all Wasatch wins, had missed four games with a hip flexor. The big man seemed to find his rhythm scoring 14 points, and grabbing five rebounds. Dow also shot 4-4 from the fine contributing to a team 91%.
Dow’s return was a welcomed sight for Wasatch fans, but the injury bug continues to plague the Wasps. Senior Ben Pelo will miss some more games with a back issue and junior guard Izzy Ballstaedt suffered a sprained ankle and a head contusion in the Ben Lomond contest. Ballstaedt is expected back this week when region play begins.