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Blog: Olympus owns the paint.
WEST VALLEY CITY — Back and forth it swung like a rickety wooden ship in the open seas.
It was a game defined by two critical technical fouls, spurring massive runs for both teams, but Olympus overcame the adversity of trailing by double digits in its thrilling 59-55 victory over East in the 4A quarterfinals at the Maverik Center on Wednesday.
"What a great high school game," Olympus coach Matt Barnes said. "It was a huge win for us — getting to the final four is great. We got to find a way to get two more. It's what you coach for. It's fun to celebrate a little bit now, but (we) need to get ready for Friday afternoon."
Olympus looked impressive in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Coulson Hardy had just drilled a 17-foot jumper when Parker Rawlings chipped in a quick bucket to give the Titans the 13-9 lead.
Oly was groovin'.
Not only were the Titans efficient on the offense end, they were frustrating Parker Van Dyke, easily one of the most explosive scorers in the state, into 1-of-7 shooting — including missing his last four attempts in the first quarter.
"He's a great player and a great shooter, we just had to make it tough on him," Barnes said of Van Dyke. "We tried to take the ball out of his hands."
With 5:46 left in the half, after an East turnover, Rawlings caught an outlet pass in the open court and threw down a two-handed dunk that nearly rimmed out. However, he was whistled for a technical foul for holding onto the rim.
"I talked to one of the refs after," Rawlings said, "I didn't agree with it, but it was the call."
That allowed Van Dyke to step to the free-throw line to find his rhythm and touch. After sinking the two freebies, he caught the ball off a quick free-throw-line-extended screen and swished the jumper to even things at 15-15.
The following possession, Arik Mawien collected an offensive rebound and quickly punched in two garbage points to give East the 17-15 advantage.
The Leopards were off the leash.
Behind Van Dyke, who knocked down a fade-away floater and twined a 3-pointer from the wing, East traveled on a 16-0 run for a 25-15 advantage with 2:04 left in the second and eventually a 29-20 lead at intermission.
Olympus didn't panic.
"I told my guys from the start it's a 32-minute game," Barnes explained.
Will Cannon and Rawlings, two post players capable from beyond 20-feet, started working inside-out in the third to steadily get the Titans back into the game.
Van Dyke, at the 1:37 mark, drained a cold-blooded 3-pointer at the top of the key to maintain a 43-38 lead during the Olympus run.
But, shortly thereafter, Cannon intercepted a telegraphed pass and hit the ground running. As he was going up for the potential dunk, East's Vaha Vainuku shoulder-checked him into the back-post.
Vainuku was assessed a technical foul, giving Cannon four uncontested looks at the free-throw line. He connected on 3-of-4. Then, with Olympus retaining possession, Cannon tied the game, 43-43, with 34.2 seconds left.
"Emotions are going high and people kind of lose their heads," Van Dyke said about the five-point play. "To win this tournament you've got to be able to overcome that."
Cannon finished 13-for-17 from the line with 19 points and six boards. Rawlings added 16 points and seven rebounds.
The two teams traded buckets until the closing moments in the fourth. With Olympus leading 58-55, Van Dyke slipped past his defender on a screen, and released a trey that dropped halfway down before it rimmed out.
Olympus had an opportunity to ice the game, but failed on two free-throw attempts with 17.4 seconds remaining.
East quickly found Van Dyke for another look at overtime on the ensuing possession, but once again his shot sailed wide right.
"That first one right when it left my hands I thought it was in. It felt good, it just felt right," Van Dyke said. "The second one I kind of lost my footing a little bit (and) they were up on me a little bit tighter. It's tough, that's just the way it goes sometimes."
Nick Barney sank 1-of-2 from the line with 5.1 seconds left to send the Titans to the semifinals against Provo.
Van Dyke poured in a game-high 23 points, but shot 7-of-26 from the field.
"I felt like I got the shots that I wanted to get and I felt like I shot in rhythm but I just didn't hit all the shots I usually make," Van Dyke said. "It's tough to play so well and to lose the game by just a couple bounces. It's tough to lose but that's what makes tournament basketball so great — if you win it's really good, but it sucks if you lose."
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