OGDEN — All season long, the Olympus Titans have relied on a balanced effort. But that equity was never more noticeable than in the first round of the 4A state tournament Tuesday evening.
Five different players recorded nine points as the Titans sent Woods Cross home with a 50-43 victory at the Dee Events Center.
"That's just good coaching," Olympus coach Matt Barnes said. "We've had that all year. We don't have a superstar. I have two or three guys step up every game."
Jaren Jones, Connor Haller, Coulson Hardy, Jake Lindsey, and Alex Monson each reached nine points and JR Tailey, the only other scorer, added five points for the Titans.
"That's what's made us the team we are," Barnes continued. "A lot of teams have one or two guys they count on night in and night out. For us, any of my guys could step up."
The Wildcats held a 19-17 lead at halftime, but Olympus opened the third quarter on a 7-0 lead and only allowed Woods Cross to score four points in the period.
The fourth quarter was the most lucrative for both teams, but the Wildcats could not close the gap.
"I thought we were very timid and passive and turned down a lot of good shots," Barnes said of his team's first half performance. "What's carried us all year, believe it or not because everybody talks about the 3s and the offense, our defense has been tremendous this year. That's what kept us in the game, because we really didn't play that great offensively."
The Titans shot 42.1 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. By comparison, Woods Cross shot 35.1 from the floor and just 20.0 percent from behind the arc. Both teams made seven free throws of 21 and 20 attempts, respectively.
"They're a good team," Barnes said of the Wildcats. "They had five seniors back that played a lot last year, a lot of good players. First game is always the toughest."
Luke Jowers led Woods Cross with 11 points while Skyler Farnes added 10 points and seven rebounds. Filipo Mokofisi had eight points and eight boards.
Barnes added that part of the shooting woes — whether from the 3-point line or the foul line — had to do with the nerves of opening the tournament.
"The first game is just something you can't explain to the kids whether you've been here once, whether you've been here year after year," he said. "The pressure, the lose-and-you're-out, the big arena, the college atmosphere — things you dream about your whole life. There's just a lot of things that go into it."
With the win, Olympus will play Sky View Thursday at 11 a.m.
"We're a long way from the championship, obviously, but it's been a great ride so far. It's something we always cherish to live to play another day," the coach said. "We'll enjoy it for a night, but we're back to work tomorrow."
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