OGDEN — The jubilation on the court was nothing compared to the emotion in the Woods Cross locker room after Zach Hunsaker's layup with 10 seconds remaining sealed the Wildcats' 66-65 upset of Olympus on Thursday evening.
Hunsaker was mobbed by reporters amid a wild on-court celebration, then was greeted by an even louder cheer from his teammates once he stepped into the Wildcats' locker room.
"I'm just really happy," Hunsaker said. "This is crazy, all the emotion with the fans and my teammates. It just feels great to get the win, especially in a game like that."
Woods Cross jumped out to an early lead behind a stellar performance by Austin Bankowski, who unleashed an arsenal of shots that Olympus was helpless to stop. The senior center hit fadeaways, corner jumpers and even a 3-pointer from the top of the key. He hustled for loose balls, then scooped in shots with defenders on top of him. He hit 9-of-10 free throws and finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
Behind Bankowski, Woods Cross took a 40-32 lead into halftime.
"We got up on them early, but we know that it's never really over with Olympus — they always seem to find a way to come back," Woods Cross coach Todd Street said. "We've played a lot of close games with them over the past few years, so I guess this was fitting."
With Colton Stewart leading the way, Olympus came out firing in the third quarter. Stewart scored 10 of his team-high 20 points in the third period as the Titans closed the gap to three points. As a team, Olympus made 13-of-20 3-pointers, with Stewart and Sam Williams hitting four each.
Will Cannon, who made only 2-of-7 from the free-throw line, hit a 3 to give Olympus its first lead of the game at 53-52 with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The teams traded buckets down the stretch — a three-point play by Woods Cross' Jordan Jensen followed by a slick inside layup by Stewart — until Olympus took a 65-62 lead on a corner 3 by Tanner Curtis, who ended up on his back as his shot fell through the net.
After a layup by Ryan Anderson pulled Woods Cross within one point, Williams was fouled and stepped to the line with a chance to extend Olympus' lead back to three. He missed the front end of the one-and-one, though, and Bankowski grabbed the rebound with just under 30 seconds left.
Woods Cross called timeout to set up a play — an option pick-and-roll at the top of the key with Bankowski as the screener and Hunsaker with the ball. Bankowski's screen put the Olympus defender on his back and Hunsaker darted to the basket untouched for the go-ahead layup with 10 seconds left.
"Zach's a great player, and we were really confident that he would come through," Bankowski said. "If he wasn't open, then I was going to get it. I was feeling it today and love to have the ball in my hands, but he had the open layup and won the game for us."
With no timeouts remaining, Olympus rushed the ball down the court and Williams attempted a contested 3 from straight on. The shot missed and a tip-in attempt by Cannon fell short as the Woods Cross team flooded the floor, taking in the moment after winning the best game of the tournament thus far.
"Williams is such a good shooter, so I was nervous," Bankowski said. "When I saw him with the ball, I thought we might be in trouble. It was kind of crazy with the ball bouncing around at the end, but then I heard the buzzer go off."6 comments on this story
Jensen finished with 15 points for the Wildcats, while Hunsaker chipped in 10 points, three assists and two steals.
Williams had 12 points — all on 3-pointers — and four assists, while Curtis finished with 14 points, five assists and a steal for Olympus in the loss.
The win gave the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage over region foe Olympus this season.
Woods Cross will face another Region 6 rival in Bountiful in the semifinals. The game will tip-off this evening at 5:30 p.m. at Weber State University's Dee Events Center.