Mount Vernon has talent for another title run

By James Edward
Deseret Morning News

      It's typical for a defending state champion to endure everyone's best effort the following year. This year, though, there's a bull's-eye the size of a volcanic crater on Mount Vernon's jersey.
      With Juan Pablo Silveira bringing back his 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists per game, and 6-foot-8 center Sebastian Gobba returning with his 14 points and eight rebounds, the Patriots are loaded for a repeat.
      "We've got a bunch of guys that like to compete," said Mount Vernon coach Scott Lambson. "We like to run, and when we get into running mode, we should be hard to stop."
      In 1A, though, anything can happen. Just ask Wasatch Academy.
      The Tigers were ranked No. 1 heading into last year's state tournament, but they were quickly relegated to the consolation bracket thanks to a first-round upset by Manila, which was Region 16's No. 4 seed.
      While Mount Vernon will no doubt be a force come March, the Patriots must first focus on holding off an outstanding Waterford squad in Region 17.
      The Ravens return four starters off last year's 1A consolation championship team.
      "The team has solid experience at all positions, has scoring capability from both inside and outside, and will defend exceptionally well," said coach Reid Monson. "If I do my job as a coach correctly, and we stay healthy, we will play very well in the region and will be difficult to beat."
      Many of Waterford's hopes hinge on 6-3 guard Tyson Brazell. The potential college prospect averaged 18 points last year. The Ravens' other returning starters are Cliff Snyder, Jud Kennedy and Kevin Pelo, who averaged a combined 28 points last year.
      The Region 17 race won't be the only hotly contested region. Both Dugway and Wasatch Academy return three starters each in Region 18.
      "I was told that last season was the best team in the school's 121-year history," said Wasatch Academy coach Ron Lindberg. "This team is better. Mantas Armonas and Everard Bartlett are both being recruited by Div. I schools, and carry the game and academics to stand out in college."
      So far this year, Armonas is averaging 22.7 points and Bartlett is averaging 21.5.
      Dugway counters with 5-11 guard Dane Schofield, who is averaging 17.2 points this year. Even though the Mustangs don't have a player over 6-foot, coach George Bruce said, "We shall survive."
      In Region 15, Milford and Bryce Valley appear to be the cream of the crop. Every region coach but one picked the two teams to finish either first or second.
      "This may be Bryce Valley's most optimistic season ever," said coach Eric Jessen. "Dave Mathews, Tye Ramsay and Levi LeFevre have all been starters since their sophomore season."
      All three averaged double-figures last year, and they're doing it again this year. In addition to the big three, Brady Shakespear and Landon Mecham are both outstanding seniors with good size.
      Milford, meanwhile, returns all five starters from a team that went 13-12 and finished second in Region 15.
      "Milford is extremely balanced and deep again this year," said Milford coach Renae Aschoff. "We should have a competitive year with explosive scoring capabilities and tenacious defense."
      Travis Nelson leads the team this year with a 15.2 scoring average.
      With three starters back off of last year's state runner-up team, Manila was the overwhelming favorite among Region 16 coaches.
      Zac Schofield and Jeff Catron will shoulder the scoring load for the Mustangs. The duo averaged 30 points last year, and is averaging 28 this year.
      Coach Scott Taylor may have a secret weapon in Casey Robinson. The 6-3 sophomore is averaging 14.5 points a game so far this year.
      "We have great shooters and team players that understand the system we're running," said Taylor. "After making it to the state championship on great defense, they are even more committed now."
      Manila's stiffest challenge in Region 16 may come from Duchesne, which returns three starters.
      "We will be experienced in all positions," said coach Stan Young. "Depth will be a positive for us. We're a little small, but if our big younger players can give us some good minutes, we should be pretty good."

'Cats to give scholarship to 1A's MVP

By James Edward
Deseret Morning News

Since leading Mount Vernon to the 1A state basketball championship last year, Juan Pablo Silveira has been battling the Utah High School Activities Association about his eligibility for this upcoming season.
Mount Vernon Academy's Juan Pablo Silveira (35) has accepted a scholarship offer to play at Weber State.

Johanna Kirk, Deseret Morning News
After a nine-month ordeal in which he was deemed ineligible on two separate occasions, the Patriots' senior has twice as many reasons to smile this week.

The UHSAA reinstated him for the upcoming season two days ago, and Thursday he accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball for Weber State.

"He's ecstatic," said Scott Lambson. "To find out that you're going to be able to play your entire senior year and then be able to commit to a scholarship, it's a big deal."

Silveira, last year's 1A MVP, is originally from Salta, Uruguay.

"He's a terrific floor leader," said Lambson. "He's quick, he's got a great shot and he's a terrific passer. I feel he's the best player coming out of Utah in the class of 2004."

At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Silveira chose Weber State over Cornell. He averaged 21.6 points per game for Mount Vernon last year


Silviera shines in Mt. Vernon win

By James Edward
Deseret Morning News

      In watching Juan Pablo Silviera run up and down a basketball court, it's easy to see why the majority of 1A basketball coaches were hoping he'd be ruled ineligible this year. With his skill and poise, the Mount Vernon senior can take over a game at any time.
Manila High's Gabe Bru, left, has the ball stripped away by Mount Vernon Academy's Andrew Lambson in Wednesday's game. Mount Vernon prevailed, 63-38.

Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News
      Wednesday afternoon at the Delta Center, that time was the second quarter.
      Silviera scored eight straight points to start the second quarter as No. 1 Mount Vernon raced to a big lead and cruised to a 63-38 victory over No. 2 Manila in a rematch of last year's 1A state championship.
      "I think he's feeding off all the adversity," said Patriots' coach Scott Lambson.
      Since Mount Vernon won last year's championship, the debate about international students has become very heated. According to a Utah High School Activities Association rule, enacted in 2002, foreign students attending high school in the United States on an F1 visa are only allowed a single year of athletic eligibility. But the rule wasn't enforced in the 2002-03 season.
      The UHSAA was hoping to enforce the rule this year, but after several appeals it decided to let current students continue playing and wait until the spring to make a final decision on the matter.
      That's bad news for 1A teams not from Murray. Silviera scored 17 of his game-high 21 points in the first half.

Photo gallery

      Mount Vernon isn't a one-man show though. Junior Sam Woodall poured in 20 points, and 6-foot-8 senior Sebastian Gobba chipped in with 10 points and eight blocks in the victory.
      "We've got a bunch of guys that like to compete," said Lambson. "We like to run, and when we get into running mode, we should be hard to stop."
      Considering the Patriots played a game Tuesday night, Lambson wasn't quite sure how effective his team's fast-paced offense would be on the enlarged Delta Center floor. Mount Vernon didn't return home until about 1 a.m. following its impressive road victory over 2A's North Sevier Tuesday.
      The Patriots didn't seem to be suffering from fatigue one bit Wednesday.
      Clinging to a 13-11 lead late in the first quarter, the Patriots reeled off a 18-2 spurt to seal the victory.
      "I think it definitely helped them to play a game already," said Manila coach Scott Taylor. "This isn't a game to panic, but this serves to help us know where we need to be."

Patriots Take Home First Ever 1A Title

By Andrew Aragon

Deseret News

Cedar City - The folks who complained about a private school winning the 1A State basketball championship last season won't be happy about this.

But Mt. Vernon fans will.

The Patriots defeated Manila 65-50 on Saturday for the school's first basketball championship and second straight for a private school in the 1A classification.

The Patriots knew fans at the 1A tournament wouldn't be happy if they won the championship. After the Patriots beat Piute on Friday night, the Mt. Vernon players and coaches had trash thrown at them as they walked of the court. The fans behavior only gave the Patriots extra motivation.

"It was ugly," Mt. Vernon coach Scott Lambson said. "We just fed off that and it inspired us to play."

Did it ever. Mt. Vernon completed an impressive four day tournament run winning three of its four games by an average of 17 points.

"All I can say is to all the people that doubted us-forget y'all," Mt. Vernon forward Tristan Lawyer said. "They didn't believe a private school could do it again."

The fans at the 1A tournament didn't have any complaints about Mt. Vernon before the tournament started. Wasatch Academy was looked at as more of a threat to win the championship. Manila especially couldn't have thought too highly of the Patriots after the Mustangs beat them by 21 points in January. But this wasn't the same Mt. Vernon team. The Patriots finished the season with 14 straight wins after starting the season 6-6.

What Changed? 

Lambson decided to take advantage of his teams strengths and talent. 

"I decided to give (Juan Pablo Silveira) the ball," Lambson said. "We started to play more up tempo and press and use our talent to out talent other teams. We've been unstoppable ever since."

It helped to get Lawyer in the mix after he sat out the first 6 games of the season because of an eligibility issue. Lawyer dropped out of school in the 10th grade after attending Central high and Granite high, and it was questioned whether or not he had any remaining eligibility left. He did, and his inside presence was a solid part in Mt. Vernon's "big three," along with Silveira and Sebastian Gobba.

"(Lawyer) made a huge difference," Lambson said.

Against Manila on Saturday, Silveira and Lawyer took a backseat to Gobba, who scored 22 points. The 6'8 center from Uruguay had little trouble scoring against the Mustangs, who's tallest player is listed a t 6'2.

"We wanted to pound the ball inside to him because we knew they didn't have anyone to guard him," Silveira said. "He did a great job."

Silveira was excellent as well. After Gobba fouled out with 3:41 remaining, Manila scored 14 straight points to cut Mt. Vernon's lead to 56-50. Manila may have made another incredible comeback but Silveira made an awkward runner in the lane on the Patriots next possession, and Lawyer followed with the 3 point play to put the game away.

"I knew they would make a run, but we had (Silveria), "Lambson said. "If he's not on the floor I don't know if we withstand it."

Mt. Vernon's win gave the school its first basketball championship in its 28 year existence.

Patriots Make History With 1st 1-A Title

By Peter Richins

The Salt Lake Tribune

CEDAR CITY- Mount Vernon's victory over Manila in Saturday's Class 1-A boys basketball state championship game did more than earn the Patriots a state title. It healed some old wounds.

The Patriots last played in the title game 10 years ago. Current coach Scott Lambson played in the loss to Valley.

"They took a lot of that pain away tonight, that's for sure," Lambson said after Mount Vernon's 65-50 victory over the Mustangs at the Centrum. Lambson is in his second year coaching the Patriots but has been a player or fan of the school his whole life.

"There's always been a Lambson coaching this team," Lambson said. The private school in Murray was founded by his parents, Jack and Jean, 28 years ago.

"It was their vision," Lambson said. "If it was for anybody, that championship was for my parents."

The Patriots' victory was their 14th straight after a 6-6 start.

"We were much slower," Lambson said. That's when he decided the change the Patriots' strategy.

"We decided to out-talent teams," Lambson said. "Give J.P. the ball, let's run at teams and make it happen."

"J.P."  is Juan Pablo Silveira. The junior guard from Uruguay scored 18 points in the game and kept Mount Vernon in control with his cool demeanor.

"It came down to J.P. being on the floor," Lambson said. "He got us our first state championship."

Silveira's 18 points was just below his tournament average of 20. But the final tally was not his main concern. 

"I don't care if I score 30 or if I don't score, the only thing is winning," Silveira said. The Patriots strategy in the game was to get the ball inside to Sebastian Gobba, another Uruguayan. 

"I like passing the ball," Silveira said. "Whenever I pass and a teammate scores, I feel great."

Gobba paced the Patriots with 22 points, despite sitting out in the 3rd quarter because of foul trouble and finally fouling out in the fourth. 

"The refs called everything on me, but it doesn't matter," Gobba said. "I still got some points."

Gobba scored 8 points in the 1st quarter as Mt. Vernon took a 16-8 lead. The Patriots were ahead by 15 points at half-time, the lead dwindled in the 4th quarter. 

A late push by Manila's Catron brothers, Jeff and Jeremy, and Zac Schofield pulled the Mustangs from Northeastern Utah to within 56-49. But Mt. Vernon's 9-1 run against an aggressive press put Manila out of reach.

"It was fate," Lambson said. "We're a team of destiny." 

Comments about their status as a private school, as well as objects from the stands after their semi-final game, were hurled at the Patriots. 

But the team made the most of the situation.

"We fed off that anti-private school mentality," Lambson said. "We thrived on it."

The Patriots basketball championship is the second in a row for a private school-and the second in 1A history.

Silveira intends to extend the streak. "Win state again next year," he said. "That's what Sebastian and I plan."

Patriots Win Has Silveira Lining

By Peter Richins

The Salt Lake Tribune

Cedar City- Mt. Vernon's boys basketball coach Scott Lambson knew Piute would be a tough test for the Patriots in Friday's Class 1A State Boys Basketball Tournament Semi-Final.

Between the Thunderbirds size and their run oriented offense Piute was an equal for Mt. Vernon in nearly every respect. The key to Mt. Vernon in its 58-57 victory, Lambson said, was Juan Pablo Silveira. 

"He is definitely the best player in this tournament," Lambson said. Silveira scored 26 points and always seemed to be there when the Patriots needed a rebound, a steal, or a layup.

"He's a man among boys, " Lambson said, "He never loses his composure."

Silveria scored 10 points in the 1st quarter and 17 in the first half. His 3 pointer in the 3rd quarter tied the score 40-40, but his leadership in the 4th quarter was his biggest contribution.

"I tried to keep calm, so the rest of my team, they don't lose it," Silveira said. But with five seconds left in the game, he was quite nervous.

With Mt. Vernon up by one, the Patriots inbounded to Silveira. To avoid a foul and to take up a few extra seconds, Silveira blindly flung the ball over his head. Piute's Josh Kellum picked it up and ran up the court, but his desperation shot fell short.

"I almost died," Silveira said.

Silveira, a junior from Uruguay, is in his first year with the Patriots. He is also in his first year in the United States, having coming to Mt. Vernon to study and to play with teammate Sebastian Gobba, who he knew in Uruguay.

With enough lead changes to keep the outcome in doubt until the last second, Mt. Vernon had several players step up. After Piute's Rowdy Smith gave the Thunderbirds the lead with less than a minute left, Adam Lambson (the coach's nephew) drove the left side of the lane and hit a layup with 18.8 seconds left.

After a time out, Piute brought the ball down the court and began looking for the game winner, but Gobba made the game clinching steal.

"As nervous as I was, that was the funnest game I have ever been a part of," Scott Lambson said.

Adam Lambson finished with 10 points, as did Gobba.

The Patriots will play for their first Boys' Basketball State Title today (5 pm).  Ten years ago, Scott Lambson played on the Mt. Vernon team which lost to Valley in the championship game-the last time Mt. Vernon has played a title game.

"We don't get there too often," he said. "We've got to go out there and give it everything we've got."

Mt. Vernon Lawyer hits the court

By Jay Hinton
Deseret News prep editor

      There was a time when Mount Vernon senior Tristan Lawyer thought he would never return to the basketball floor.
Mount Vernon Academy's Tristan Lawyer goes for a layup against Rowland Hall-St. Mark's Brandon Mayer-Blackwell Wednesday.

Johanna Kirk, Deseret News
      He dropped out of school after his freshman year for personal reasons but returned a year later. Because of that, he was ineligible for his final year because UHSAA rules state a players' eligibility clock begins at first enrollment and they have four consecutive years to complete it.
      After two unsuccessful tries to overturn the UHSAA's ruling, Lawyer, who missed the Patriots' first seven games, was granted his final year earlier this week.
      He played in his first game Wednesday night and scored a career-high 27 points in leading the Class 1A Patriots (5-3) to the 68-51 victory over Class 2A Rowland Hall.
      "It's great to be back, especially when you have a lot of great teammates," Lawyer said.
      Lawyer, along with 6-foot-8-inch junior Sebastian Gobba, dominated the middle. Lawyer scored 16 points in the first half and Gobba added 11 more. Gobba finished with 13 for the game.
      "He (Lawyer) is learning to play under the basket, and you can't teach want Tristan has," Mount Vernon coach Scott Lambson said. "He wasn't that good of a player last year, but he learned how to play through experience."

Photo gallery

      Juan Pablo Silveira, who is the second-leading scorer in Class 1A at 23.9 points a game, scored 19 points and dished out a half dozen assists.
      With the addition of Lawyer, the Patriots now have a solid inside game with Gobba, while Silveira, Adam Lambson, who scored seven, and Trent Savage, who saw limited minutes Wednesday, are bona fide scoring threats from the outside.
      "Definitely (Lawyer) will be a big plus for us the rest of the season," Scott Lambson said. "He can score and that will take pressure off Gobba."
      The Patriots led by seven at the end of the first quarter, and utilizing a half-court trapping defense forced Rowland Hall into several turnovers. Lawyer scored 11 points in the second quarter including nine straight to balloon Mount Vernon's lead to 13 with 2:04 left in the half.
      He also scored the first two buckets of the second half to increase the lead to 16 points.
      The Winged Lions (3-6) scored just three points in the first six minutes of the third quarter, allowing the Patriots to lead by 20 points on a Silveira jumper with 3:01 left in the period.
      "Our half-court trap forced the tempo to more of our liking," Scott Lambson said.
      Paul Long led Rowland Hall with 17 points (three three-pointers) and Kyle Olsen finished with 11 points.