Any time he shoots I think it’s going in. —Olympus coach Matt Barnes on Jeremy Dowdell
SALT LAKE CITY — Sharp-shooting from the line and from the perimeter, along with a good presence on the low-post, can pay huge dividends for any team and certainly did for Highland in its 76-64 win over Mountain View on Wednesday.
For the game the Rams shot 25 of 30 from the stripe and 7 of 18 from behind the arc, solid percentages which helped build an early lead which Highland maintained throughout.
That type of sharp-shooting didn't come by mistake, according to Rams' coach Jim Boyce.
“We shoot 50 (free throws) per day and these kids are confident," Boyce said. "They’ve shot so many that they come up and hit them. So it makes it easier I feel good about our shooting ability.”
Manning the middle for the Rams was 6-foot-8 senior Rick Schmidt, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while hitting on all eight of his free-throw attempts.
“He’s a warrior,” Boyce said of Schmidt. “He’s so skilled and he’s the most skilled big-man I’ve been around. He’s a great kid. He’s a very studious person and he’s money from mid-range, so I’m glad to have him on my team.”
Also making big contributions for the Rams were seniors Jayden Palauni and Will Trice. Palauni scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds coming off the bench while Trice added 10 points and five assists.
Highland's collective effort was impressive on Wednesday and necessary to not only get the win over Mountain View, but also to advance farther in the 4A state tournament.
“That’s what we need to do,” Boyce said. “We have to spread it around and you can’t have a one-man show to get deep into the tournament. You can’t have just one guy.”
— Brandon Gurney
Unheralded Bolinger comes up big for Timpview
After his team’s 58-42 4A quarterfinal win against Kearns Wednesday afternoon, Timpview head coach Kevin Santiago said center AJ Bolinger is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, big men in the state.
“I’ve been saying all year, pound-for-pound, he’s the best big guy in the state. He’s the most patient player and he’s so good at waiting to make the right play. Then, at the last second, he’s got the quickness to give him a little edge. He was the key to the game tonight and was great at passing back out to our guards, too,” said Santiago.
And, after his stellar performance against the Cougars, Bolinger sure made a strong case to back up that statement.
Going up against an extremely athletic, long and aggressive Kearns’ defense, anchored by senior center Kur Kuath, Bolinger’s impressive post play helped him finish the night shooting a perfect 9-of-9 from the field for a team-high 18 points, five rebounds and four assists and help Timpview advance to the 4A semifinals.
“We were a little nervous at the beginning, but we started playing our basketball and got into a rhythm. They’re crazy athletic and just a very good team,” Bolinger said. “He’s (Kuath) crazy long and a great player. I’ve played guys just as good and as long, you just use some ball fakes to get around them and just play your game. I can’t wait for the semifinals — I’m really excited.”
— Ryan Love
Dowdell comes off bench to spark Olympus
Olympus guard Jeremy Dowdell is just a freshman, but you wouldn't have guessed that fact with how he performed during the Titans' 50-46 4A state quarterfinal win over Orem on Wednesday.
Subbing of the bench, Dowdell managed three huge 3-point baskets in the win, including two during a critical stretch late in the second half. A performance belying his age or that it was his first game played at the imposing environs of the Huntsman Center.
“Jared is an unbelievable shooter,” said Olympus coach Matt Barnes. “Unfortunately, for him, we have a lot of great guards who have played a lot of minutes, so there’s not a lot of minutes there. He’s just taking what’s coming his way and he’s (always) ready. But you’re going to see a special player down the road here.”
As for Dowdell, he just played as if it were any other game.
"I just took the mentality that it was just a regular game and not think too much about it," Dowdell said. "Just glad that coaches have the confidence in me."
Both of Dowdell's 3-pointers in the second half were contested, but the freshman managed to remain calm and put them through, regardless.
“Any time he shoots I think it’s going in,” Barnes said.
Dowdell hopes to maintain his calm demeanor when the team goes on to take on Woods Cross in the semifinal round on Friday.
"I'm having so much fun and I'm just happy to help out my team," Dowdell said.
— Brandon Gurney
Jordan Lewis is the glue of Woods Cross success
After finishing a tremendous and-one layup in the final second of Woods Cross' thrilling 51-49 4A quarterfinal win against Payson, the Wildcats' head coach Kasey Walkenhurst had lots of praise for Jordan Lewis.
Playing alongside and being outshinped by star Trevin Knell all year, it has actually been Lewis who's been the glue that's held the 'Cats together all season.
“Jordan is the glue to our team and gets us into all of our stuff. He’s a little bit quirky sometimes, but man, he makes some plays. Our guys just didn’t give up tonight. Every game it seems like we’ve had close games. This team just finds a way to win,” Walkenhurst said.
And Wednesday night's hard-fought battle with Payson was no exception. Lewis came out in an instant offensive rhythm with eight points in the first half and continuously hit big shot after big shot, including the spectacular game-winner, to put his team on his back and get them into the 4A semifinals.
He finished with 12 points with four rebounds, three dimes and two steals in the win.
“We drew it up in the timeout. If I had it (open), I was going up (to the hoop) but if I didn’t, I was either calling a timeout to set something else up or find another guy in the corner. It just feels great to be here — it means a lot to me,” said Lewis.
— Ryan Love
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org