Titans’ second-half comeback earns boys basketball team another state titleMar 29, 2022 09:30PM ● By Josh Mc Fadden
Photo by Roger V. Tuttle
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
With another championship, the Olympus boys basketball team has earned its place as one of the top programs in the state over the past decade.
On March 5, the Titans claimed their third state championship in the past seven years. This time around, Olympus rallied to defeat upstart Woods Cross 40-31 to claim the crown in a low-scoring contest.
The Titans found themselves in unfamiliar territory early on.
Down 21-16 at halftime, the Titans were not accustomed to being in a close game, especially behind. After all, Olympus entered the game with a 25-1 record (12-0 in Region 6) and had outscored its foes by more than 25 points per game. But head coach Matt Barnes and his players weren’t panicking.
“We trusted ourselves; we had confidence in ourselves,” Barnes said. “[Woods Cross] slowed it down and spread the floor. It was a battle and a war.”
In the third quarter, Olympus scored the first four points to narrow the gap to 21-20. But then Woods Cross scored six points in a row to go back up by seven. From there, it was all Olympus and its tough defense. The Titans outscored Woods Cross 13-4 in the fourth quarter.
“We did a tremendous job closing the third quarter and got the lead in the fourth,” Barnes said. “It’s fun to win it at the end and celebrate.”
Dutch DowDell was the game’s high scorer with 23 points. He also made four of his team’s five three-pointers. Jake Wistrcill had seven points and six rebounds, while Jordan Barnes contributed five points, five assists and six steals.
“We showed poise, composure and toughness,” Barnes said. “It’s a credit to the boys.”
Barnes also said that the state tournament offers some unique challenges that the players don’t face during the regular season.
“At state, the players know it’s one and done, do or die,” he said. “But we have the same mentality at state as we did all season. We continue to do what we’ve been doing.”
Olympus defeated Salem Hills 63-45 in the quarterfinals on Feb. 28 and routed Bonneville 60-43 in the semifinals on March 2. During the region portion of the season, Olympus routinely won by 30 or 40 points.
“There was a lot of pressure; the target on our back was big,” Barnes said. “We took every game in stride. We were never too high or too low; we just kept moving forward.”
The last time Olympus won the state title was in 2017–18 when the team went a perfect 27-0. Those Titans won the championship game by 27 points and only had two games in which it won by fewer than 10 points. Olympus also won the state championship in 2015–16, which was its first ever.
Barnes compared this latest Titans squad to the undefeated team four years ago.
“Every team has its own identity,” he said. “Both teams had good confidence. Both had similar margins of victory in its games. It’s all about the culture we have and how we do things.”
Some challenges await the Titans next season. Olympus loses some senior leaders but does return a pair of talented sophomores in DowDell and Jordan Barnes. Coach Barnes also noted that the JV team only lost one game. Some of those players will be key members of the varsity squad in 2022–23.