In their first round matchup in The Basketball Tournament, the number 11 seed Wasatch Front was taken down by the six seed team, Challenge ALS, by a score of 97–81.
The Basketball Tournament is a nationwide competition where teams of former college, NBA and European players compete for a $2 million prize.
The Wasatch Front was a team composed almost entirely of Weber State University alumni. The team was originally started by Kellen McCoy, who played for the Wildcats from 2007–2009, and Scott Bamforth, who spent 2010–2013 at WSU.
Without the other knowing, both players attempted to start teams for TBT before creating the Wasatch Front.
“I got with Scott, and we talked a little bit and basically combined the two teams,” McCoy said. “From there, we talked to Damian (Lillard) a bit … and then it was a race for votes to get top nine in the west.”
Their first round opponent was Challenge ALS, which was started by former Boston College basketball player Sean Marshall in honor of his friend and roommate Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012.
Should Challenge ALS win the whole tournament, $250,000 of the prize money and all donations will go to Frates and Strike Out ALS. To honor their friend, each player had the name “Frates” on the backs of their jerseys.
The game took place at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. On the court, it was all Wasatch early on as Bamforth made his first four 3-pointers, and the team jumped out to a quick lead. According to guard Davion Berry, this was their plan from the start.
Berry said, “Scott got going. He’s one of he best shooters in Europe, and he carried us.”
Once halftime rolled around, the ’Cats had a one-point lead. Bamforth led the team with 20 points, followed by Monyea Pratt’s seven points and Berry’s six points. Offensively, the team prioritized the kind of shooting that Weber State coach Randy Rahe has always emphasized to his players.
McCoy said, “We were calling some of the stuff we ran at Weber just off the fly. Some of the plays we’ve been running for years and could never forget, we’re still running and got us a couple of buckets early.”
In the second half, it was all Challenge ALS, as the high seed used two major runs to lock up their victory. Early on in the half, Challenge went on a 19–4 run before having an 8–0 run near the end of the game. Marshall carried Challenge ALS throughout the game, leading all scorers at the end with 28 points.
Beyond Marshall’s scoring success, Challenge ALS was more well rounded on offense, getting 45 points from their reserves — compared to the six points Wasatch Front got from their bench players.
Once the game wrapped up, there were four former Wildcats with double-digit points. Bamforth led the way with 27, followed by Berry’s 16, McCoy’s 14 and Pratt’s 12 points. Pratt and center Kyle Tresnak also tied for the team lead in rebounds with six apiece.
Bamforth said, “In the end, they played more physical than us. They got to more loose balls, more rebounds, and that was the difference in the game.”
Even though the loss knocked the Wasatch Front out of the tournament, many of the players will keep playing the game they love.
Both Bamforth and Berry, in addition to others, are looking for more contracts in Europe. McCoy coaches Mount St. Mary’s High School basketball team in Oklahoma, and reserve big man David Patten broadcasts Weber State men’s basketball games.
Now, it’s back to the reality of life for all the players and the hope that next year the Wasatch Front will be the ones lifting the giant check.