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Holladay Journal

Olympus boys basketball aiming for another championship run

Dec 01, 2023 12:42PM ● By Josh McFadden

Dutch DowDell is on pace to break his brother Jeremy’s career three-point record. (File photo City Journals)

At a program like the Olympus boys basketball team, expectations are always high. This year is certainly no different. 

The Titans are coming off a 24-3 season in which they went to the Class 5A state semifinals. Olympus fell to Alta, ending its bid for a state. Olympus won Region 6 with an 11-1 record. It was its eighth region championship in the past 10 years. Head coach Matt Barnes, who enters his 27th year at Olympus after spending two years as an assistant, has amassed an impressive 504-124 record. During his tenure, Olympus has won three state titles: 2016, 2018 and 2022. 

Coming off a semifinal run, the Titans want another shot at the state crown. 

“We’re excited to get going,” Barnes said. “We’re motivated and have expectations.”

Olympus has 10 seniors on its roster, led by the coach’s son Jordie Barnes as well as Dutch DowDell, who is on pace to break his brother Jeremy’s career three-point record. Last season, Jordie Barnes averaged 12.8 points per game along with 6.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds. DowDell, meanwhile, was one of the top scorers in the state, pouring in 23.7 points per game a year ago. He hit 83 three-pointers and grabbed 5.5 rebounds an outing. Gavin Lowe, just a sophomore, scored 6.8 points a game and dished out 3.1 assists an outing a season ago when he started as a freshman. Barnes said some players who saw limited varsity minutes a year ago will see bigger roles this season. He mentioned Reef Smylie, Will Blanck, Weston Olsen and Eli Mayfield as players he is counting on this season to step up. There are also a handful of players who were on the football team (which reached the state semifinals) who are now transitioning to the basketball team. 

“We need to get them into basketball mode,” Barnes said. “It’s going to take some time to adjust.”

Olympus is staying in Region 6 this season, though it will have some new opponents. One of these will be Alta, which knocked the Titans out of the playoffs a season ago and eventually won the 5A title. Barnes said his players are itching for the chance to play the Hawks again. 

“We’re looking forward to playing Alta,” he said. “We get to play them twice. Having them in our region adds some intrigue.”

In the past, some coaches would experiment more with their lineups early in the season before region play started. Region standings would determine playoff seeding, so wins and losses in non-region action didn’t have a direct effect on where teams would be seeded in the state tournament. However, with RPI—not region standings—scores now determining seeding, the approach is a little different. Still, Barnes still emphasizes the importance of taking first in league play. 

“Every game matters,” Barnes said. “We always try to win region. We play to win every game.”

This year’s Olympus team doesn’t have a lot of size, but Barnes believes his players have other skills and attributes to offset height disadvantages. He said his players have good quickness, shoot the ball well and have high basketball IQs. 

To be successful once again this season, Barnes is looking for his team to control the boards, play hard and keep other teams from getting into their offense. 

“We’ll need to defend, be scrappy and rebound,” he said. “I’m excited to see what the kids can do.”

Olympus starts the season at home against Orem on Nov. 28. After a full slate of December games Olympus tips off Region 6 action Jan. 3 at Highland. The Titans and Alta will meet Jan. 16 at Alta and Feb. 9 at Olympus. The final regular season game is Feb. 16 at Skyline. 

A special occasion is upcoming for the school and boys basketball team on Nov. 27. 

To celebrate the school’s 70th year, Barnes is helping to organize and promote a reunion of anyone who has ever played boys basketball at the school. Barnes himself is a former player, and he’s hoping to get as many former players to return to celebrate and reminisce. λ