WEST VALLEY CITY — The Maverik Center has a different atmosphere than most basketball players are accustomed to. The arena, designed for hockey, has an enormous backdrop behind the hoop, creating confusion for perspective for shooters.
It was evident in the first round of the 4A boys basketball tournament on Monday afternoon with arctic-like cold shooting plaguing both teams in the first half. Olympus, though, eventually made the adjustment in the final 16 minutes in its 51-37 win over Bonneville.
"I've been around a long time and the first round is always the scariest. We're the one seed and they're the four seed ... they've got nothing to lose," Olympus coach Matt Barnes said. "I felt like both teams played a little tentative in the first half, but my guys really settled down in the second half.
"It's always great to win. We've got a long way to go, but it's always great to get that first one."
The Titans (16-6) zipped to an early 7-0 lead behind Will Cannon, who scored the first five points off two second-chance opportunities.
Cannon finished with a game-high 15 points and 10 boards. In total, Olympus corralled 12 offensive rebounds, nine of which came courtesy of Cannon and Parker Rawlings, who added 14 and 12, respectively.
"It was a big emphasis. Will (Cannon) and Parker (Rawlings) did a nice job of keeping things alive," Barnes said about crashing the glass. "It's a different shooting environment at the (Maverik) Center ... so you know there's going to be a lot of rebounds to be had, and you got to find a way to go get them. That was a big key for us."
Larson, usually a sure-shooting marksman and Bonneville's leading scorer, finished 3-for-11 from the field and 3-for-8 behind the arc.
Olympus used its defensive intensity and relentless full-court press to frustrate the Lakers into shooting 13-for-44 as a team for the game.
Trailing 20-8 with 1:48 remaining in the first half, Bonneville embarked on an 8-0 run behind consecutive 3-pointers by Jared Ford and Larson to close the gap, 20-16, at intermission.
"We had the ball first coming out, and we (needed) to come out and execute and get the game back in double digits," said Barnes, whose team has won six of its last seven games. "I tell my guys that the first four minutes of the third quarter (are) the most important to set the tone for the second half."
The message stuck.
Olympus, clinging to a 22-18 advantage after the Lakers' Brady Borklund bullied home an offensive put-back, exploded on a 17-6 run that culminated when Nick Barney swished home a trey from dead-center as time expired in the third.
With the comfortable lead, the Titans connected on 11 of their final 15 free-throw attempts to advance to the second round.
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