High school basketball: Highland puts finishing touch on Olympus

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 23 2011 12:24 a.m. MST

Olympus' Colton Stewart, left, and Highland's Nate Fakahafua, center and Ben Johnson eye a loose ball in the Rams' win.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

Win or lose Tuesday night, Highland was always going to be considered one of the favorites in next week's 4A state tournament.

It's always sweeter to go in as a region champ though.

Despite a few bumps along the way in region play — which coach Keith West chalked up to simply being human — Highland put the finishing touches on the Region 6 title with a 56-46 victory over Olympus.

"This is our first step into what we want. Feels good to go out of here with a win in our last game in this building," said Highland point guard Sam Orchard.

It wasn't the prettiest win, but Highland heads into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and will face the fourth seed from either Region 5 or Region 7 next Tuesday at 5:50 p.m. at Weber State. Olympus will face the Region 5 runner-up at 9:30 a.m.

"Now it's time to go to state and start all over. I like where we're at," said West.

A 60-second shooting barrage in the third quarter proved to be the difference.

With Highland leading 31-28 midway through the quarter, Liam Thomas and Steven Divver connected on three straight 3-pointers to extend the lead to 40-28.

"Divv and all the other guys who hit big shots, they hit it all day in practice. If people key on anyone and they're open, they'll hit it," said Orchard.

Olympus made a run early in the fourth quarter to cut Highland's lead to 43-39, but the Rams' defense was simply too good for the Titans to sustain the momentum the rest of the way.

"We defended our tail off tonight. Our goal was to come out and do a job defensively," said West.

Highland's offense was just as efficient shooting 50 percent from the field and knocking down eight 3-pointers.

Olympus was the sharper team early, connecting on 6-of-8 field goals in the first quarter to take an early 13-7 lead. Highland's defense buckled down in the second quarter forcing Olympus into six turnovers as it took a 24-22 halftime lead.

The teams traded buckets early in the third quarter, and it looked like the rivals were headed for a fantastic finish. The Rams' lethal outside shooting changed all that.

Divver finished the game with 13 points on three 3s, while Orchard added 13 points. Lew Evans chipped in with 12 points, all coming in the first half.

"We've been telling these guys, trust the offense. Sometimes we get worried about Sam and Nate (Fakahafua) creating on their own," said West. "We have other guys, let the offense work. Sam and Nate will get what they get, but you other guys are going to get wide open shots if you're just patient and run the stuff."

Tanner Curtis scored 15 points to lead Olympus, which shot an impressive 51 percent from the field but a disappointing 45 percent from the free throw line.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com

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