OGDEN — "Two more, baby!" a victorious Sky View player excitedly shouted as he and his teammates joyfully headed for their locker room. "Two more!"
That was the Bobcats' battle cry following a thrilling 62-57 victory over Olympus in Thursday's quarterfinals of the 4A boys basketball tournament at the Dee Events Center.
Indeed, "two more" wins would give them a state championship for the first time since in 1994 — back before members of this year's team were even born — and with Thursday's win, they reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2003.
"Hey, we're excited," said Sky View coach Kirk Hillyard. "These kids are great; they've been working hard, they've been working so hard.
"I'm happy for the student body, man. It's been a long time since we've had that many fans down here, and it's great to see those guys down here supporting these kids. This is what high school sports is about — going out and having fun, bringing your students along. It's an experience that they won't forget."
It sends Sky View (17-8), the third-place finisher from Region 5, soaring into Friday night's 4A semis against Bountiful, which advanced with a 50-44 victory over Roy. The Sky View-Bountiful matchup tips off at 7:30 p.m. in the Dee Events Center.
"We just want to keep going and we want to win it," said Sky View senior guard Ty Nielsen, who led all scorers with 26 points. "It's important to us because the last few years we've won one game or we've been one-and-done, but now we've gotten to this next step and we've got the second game, we're going for it all. Whoever wins (the Bountiful-Roy matchup on the Bobcats' side of the bracket) ... we're gonna go get 'em.
"(It was a) big crowd, loved that. That's what helps us. It's fun to play, defensively it helps you and it's just fun to go out and play for your classmates and your friends and just the atmosphere — high school basketball is the best."
The dynamic one-two punch of Nielsen and Jalen Moore was instrumental in Sky View's victory, along with senior forward Matt Dewey.
Nielsen scored the Bobcats' first 10 points, poured in 17 by halftime and finished with a game-high 26. He hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 39 seconds after Olympus tied it up at 52-all with 2:15 to play and wound up 10-of-12 from the foul line with five rebounds and three steals.
"Ty has a ton of energy," Hillyard said. "As you can tell, he plays as hard as anybody I've seen play in a long time. He leaves it all out there on the floor and he got some things going to the basket early, that's what gave us the early lead and got us going a little bit.
"Ty's a fun kid to watch and he's been playing varsity for three years and that's his limelight, that's his stage, that's what he does. It's a little bit helter-skelter out there and he goes and scores."
Moore, a 6-foot-8 senior who might be measured at 7-4 if you included his high-pile Afro, shook off a cold-shooting start to wind up with 16 points — 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter to help keep the Titans from taking the lead — along with five rebounds and four assists.
"I couldn't get anything to fall," Moore said of his first-half struggles, which ended when he hit a couple of jumpers late in the second quarter to help the Bobcats draw even at halftime, 28-28. "They were playing tough 'D' and I'll give 'em props on that. But once I got those two shots to go, I was kinda feeling it and brought it over to the second half and I just tried to capitalize on the buckets I could get."
Dewey added 11 points and five more boards for the Bobcats, and it was his bucket with 1:40 to go that broke the 52-all deadlock and sparked Sky View's 10-5 spurt to finish the game. Dewey was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.
"We knew we were gonna be in for a dogfight," Hillyard said. "It's 52-52 and Matt Dewey makes a great move to the basket and scores that. I'm proud of those guys. They played hard." "That was huge," Nielsen said of Dewey's big basket down the stretch. "He's a stud. I love that kid; I love this whole team, and without them we couldn't be where we're at. And if we keep playing together as a team and just keep getting better and better ..."Comment on this story
Then "two more" wins — and a long-awaited state championship — could be in the Bobcats' immediate future.
For Olympus (17-6), junior forward Alec Monson scored 16 of his team-leading 20 points in the second half, and Coulson Hardy had 19 points on the strength of 8-of-9 shooting with three 3-pointers for the Region 7 champion Titans.
But they saw their 11-game winning streak snapped and somehow lost despite shooting 60 percent (24-of-40) from the field. However, they only went to the foul line three times (3-of-3) compared to 16-of-21 free-throw shooting for Sky View.