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Patriots take home first-ever 1A title

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 Mount 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. Waterford became the first private school to win the 1A championship last season.

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 Mount Vernon players and coaches had trash thrown at them as they walked off the court. The fans' behavior only gave the Patriots extra motivation.

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

Did it ever. Mount 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," Mount 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 Mount 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 Mount 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 team's 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 since."

It helped to get Lawyer in the mix after he sat out the first six 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 of Mount 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, whose tallest player is listed at 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 Mount 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 (Silveira)," Lambson said. "If he's not on the floor I don't know if we withstand it."

Mount Vernon's win gave the school its first basketball championship in its 28-year existence. The school was founded by Lambson's parents, Jack and Jean, in 1975.

"This school was their vision and idea," Lambson said. "If this win is for anybody, it's for them, and I think everybody in the locker room would agree with me."

The win was made even more sweet for Lambson after he lost the state championship as a Mount Vernon player 10 years ago. That was the last time the Patriots had advanced as far as the championship game.