SANDY — Twelve minutes into Tuesday's game at Alta, the Olympus Titans had only scored 11 points — thanks to 10 turnovers — and were staring at a seemingly insurmountable 15-point deficit.
Over the next 21/2 quarters, however, Olympus coach Matt Barnes learned a lot about the character of this year's team.
The Titans methodically chipped away at the deficit, eventually taking their first lead with three minutes remaining. From there, they survived a wild final few minutes to earn a 49-48 victory after Alta missed a mid-range jumper at the buzzer.
"I was really proud of my kids, how they hung in there and fought and battled and gave us a chance in the end," said Barnes.
Tuesday's game was sloppy throughout and featured 37 turnovers. Olympus ultimately took the lead for good with 13 seconds remaining when Jared Jones grabbed an offensive rebound and then quickly found Jake Lindsey under the basket for a layup.
Alta coach Jim Barker elected not to call a timeout after the basket so Olympus couldn't set up the full-court press that had given the Hawks fits throughout the fourth quarter. Instead, Barker let point guard Trevor Hill attack the basket, and it nearly paid off as he penetrated and created a 15-foot jumper that narrowly bounced off the rim.
As nice as the victory was, Oly's struggles throughout the first half were a clear indicator Barnes' team is very much a work in progress. He didn't expect anything less with zero returning starters from last year's 4A runner-up team. With that said, he's optimistic Tuesday's win will go a long way toward building the offensive continuity that was lacking most of the night, as evidenced by 20 turnovers and 37-percent shooting.
"We have a lot of growing up to do. We have a lot of inexperienced kids so we're trying to find our way a little bit, and it's not going to be easy with only three home games in the preseason and a lot of games against 5A schools," said Barnes.
The Titans made up for much of their offensive struggles at the foul line by making 16-of-18 free throws, including 12-of-14 from Jones, who led all scorers with 23 points.
After falling behind 26-11 midway through the second quarter, Olympus scored on six of its next eight possessions over the rest of the half to trim the lead to 30-24. Senior Tanner Goates came off the bench and hit two 3-pointers during the Titans' run.
The visitors cut the lead to 35-34 late in the third quarter, but the Hawks increased it to six again heading into the fourth quarter.
The Titans finally took their first lead at 45-44 with 3:07 remaining on a pair of free throws by Jones. It was one of five lead changes in the final three minutes, which included Hill giving Alta a 48-47 lead on a driving layup with 51 seconds remaining.
The lead lasted less than a minute as Olympus completed the unlikely comeback.
"They're a good program with great tradition, and it's fun to play the big boys," said Barnes. "It was a great high school game. Yeah, it was a preseason game, but that's what you play for — the crowd, the students — and to have a game come down like that and win it is awesome."
R.J. Beard led Alta with 15 points and three 3-pointers in the loss, while Landon Albrecht chipped in with 10 points.
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