Titans can’t overcome rough fourth quarter, lose in state boys basketball semifinals
Apr 15, 2019 10:32AM
● By Josh McFadden
Senior Rylan Jones finished a historic career at Olympus High with 25 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in the 5A semifinal game. (Photo courtesy Blake Williams)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
On March 1, Olympus and Corner Canyon met in boys basketball for the third time in the past 12 months. Unfortunately for the Titans, the outcome was much different this time around.
Seeking a fourth straight trip to the state championship game and second consecutive Class 5A crown, Olympus came up short against the Chargers, losing in the state semifinals 77-69. It was just the third loss of the year for the Titans, who were hoping for a chance to play for their third state title in the past four years.
The previous two meetings against Corner Canyon were comfortable victories for Olympus.
Olympus destroyed Corner Canyon in last season’s 5A title game 76-49. The rout capped an undefeated season for Olympus. Earlier this season, at the Utah Elite 8 tournament on Dec. 6, the Titans cruised past the Chargers 82-67, thanks largely to a 27-12 run in the fourth quarter.
Ironically, in this season’s semifinals, Corner Canyon used its own dominant fourth quarter to get revenge and turn the table on Olympus.
After getting behind 18-11 at the end of the first quarter, Olympus righted the ship and took a 56-50 lead into the final eight minutes. In the fourth, Corner Canyon surprisingly blitzed Olympus 27-13 to prevail by eight points. It was Olympus’ earliest postseason exit since the 2015 4A tournament when it lost to Kearns in the semifinals.
Senior sensation Rylan Jones was fantastic in the gut-wrenching loss for Olympus. The all-around star nearly recorded a triple-double with 25 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Jeremy Dowdell added 19 points, while Jackson Frank contributed 18, including five three-pointers. However, the Titans shot just nine free throws (making six), while Corner Canyon connected on 26 of 31.
Olympus had a pair of 20-point victories in its first two playoff games. The Titans beat Region 5’s Woods Cross 77-57 in round one, behind 27 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals from Jones. Dowdell had 18 points in the win, and Noah Bennee chipped in 14 points and six rebounds. The Titans had a bit of a lull in the second quarter, letting a 12-point lead dip to six at halftime. The team refocused and pulled away down the stretch.
Things looked a little scary in the quarterfinals against Timpanogos, when the Titans uncharacteristically scored just 16 points and trailed by 10 at the break. The second half was more Olympus’ style, as it outscored Timpanogos 46-16. The Titans hit 21 of 26 shots from the foul line and made more than 50 percent of their field goals. Jones paced the team with 22 points. He also had five rebounds, five assists and five steals. The 42 points that Olympus allowed was its third-best effort of the season.
The Titans will have a new cast of leaders next season.
Head coach Matt Barnes must say goodbye to Jones and a Dowdell, a duo that led Olympus to a state title and a combined 74-6 record the past three seasons. Dowdell was also part of the 2015–16 Olympus team that won the state championship during his freshman season; Jones attended Logan High School as a freshman. Other key players Bennee, Jackson and Jack Hollberg are also seniors, meaning Barnes will have to reload next season as Olympus aims for a sixth straight region championship.