View the full online photo gallery here.
WEST VALLEY CITY — Olympus earned itself a trip to the state finals for the first time since 2001 with a 64-51 win over Provo Friday afternoon. The Titans used clutch foul shooting, which capped off a third-quarter burst to put away the Bulldogs — punching their ticket to the championship game.
"It feels great — I'm pumped," said senior guard Nick Barney. "It's what we've worked for and to go to the finals is unreal, but we have one game to go."
Barney keyed a strong start for the Titans — scoring nine of his team's 11 points in the first quarter for an 11-8 lead. Provo took the lead at the half 25-24, however, using a 9-0 run at the outset of the second quarter.
"We were a little passive, so I told them that we needed to be more aggressive in the second half," said Olympus coach Matt Barnes. "We also had to change things up on the offense. We needed to get the ball up the court and have them chase us a bit."
His team responded to his directive, outscoring the Bulldogs 40-26 — doing most of their work in the third quarter. With Provo leading 29-28, Olympus responded with a 12-0 run, which all but decided the final outcome.
"Will makes it easy for us on the outside with how he plays," said Barney. "Guys have to defend him and it leaves us with some great opportunities to hit shots. Fortunately, we did, but the credit goes to him."
Cannon led the Titans with a game-high 24 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Provo tried to make the 6-foot-6 forward earn his points from the line, only to have him convert all 12 of his attempts.
"What can you way about Will? He's just tough inside and relentless," said Barnes. "He's had a terrific year for us. … Going 12-of-12 from the line is obviously outstanding. He just had the type of game we're used to him having, and was maybe even a little better than he usually is tonight."
Olympus took a 42-32 lead into the final quarter — maintaining the lead all the way to the final buzzer. Provo made a run early in the quarter when a couple of steals by Russell Isom and Wesley Bosco led to layups — cutting the deficit to just 46-39 at the 3:57 mark, but from there, it was all Olympus.
Barney again keyed the next burst — scoring five points during a 9-2 Titan run that finished off the Bulldogs. Provo tried to chip into the lead, but Olympus proved solid from the line — missing just one foul attempt in the final four minutes.
"We got a few turnovers and made them take some bad shots," said Barnes. "We didn't give them any easy shots and defended really well."
While Provo was ice-cold from the perimeter, it did manage some baskets down low, powered by 6-6 senior Jonny Flake, who led the Bulldogs with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
With the win, Olympus takes on Orem, which was considered one of the two favorites entering the postseason.
"We'll definitely be the underdog, but to get to this point — we'll take our chances," said Barnes. "These guys — not a lot was expected from them. … It's rewarding for them and for me. It's my fifteenth year coaching and I've been to the finals just one time before, and it's been a long time. Olympus has been around for a long time and has never won a state championship, so hopefully that can change."