It was definitely an unbelievable year. The kids really played well. The chemistry was great, shot it great, but now we have to start back over and hopefully carry it into this week. —Olympus coach Matt Barnes
After 21 teams prior had tried and failed, two weeks ago in the second-to-last game of the regular season, East seemed poised to end Olympus’ perfect season as it jumped out to a 17-point lead after the first quarter.
Everything was going right for the Leopards, while an Olympus team that averages 84 points a game couldn’t get anything to drop.
The game had similarities to last year’s state semifinals in which Olympus fell behind Corner Canyon by 25 points in the second quarter.
And just like in the tourney game last year, the Titan Triples started falling. Just as it rallied from 25 down to beat Corner Canyon a year ago, Olympus rallied past East two weeks ago and ended up winning comfortably 82-71.
That explosiveness offensively is why No. 1 Olympus is the overwhelming favorite heading into this week’s 5A state tournament.
“It was definitely an unbelievable year. The kids really played well. The chemistry was great, shot it great, but now we have to start back over and hopefully carry it into this week,” said Olympus coach Matt Barnes.
The first round takes place Monday with four games each at Weber State and Utah Valley University, with the tourney shifting to the University of Utah Wednesday through Saturday.
Don’t expect Olympus (23-0) to take anything for granted. It was the tourney favorite last year but lost in the championship to Springville in double overtime. The East game was a reminder how anything can happen, especially come tourney time.
“Everyone thinks as good as we’ve played it’s ours to win or ours to lose, but I think there’s a lot of good teams out there than can make a run at it. You know how tournaments go,” said Barnes.
It will take a great defensive effort to pull off the upset. Olympus has scored 1,948 points in 23 games this season, and if it marches through the state tourney and averages 72 points in four games, it would break Highland’s single-season state scoring record from the 1978-1979 season.
The Titans have been held under 72 points just three times this season.
Olympus has also made 243 3-pointers, which is 11 shy of Valley’s state-record 254 3-pointers last season, according to the UHSAA record books.
If anyone is going to upend Olympus, Timpanogos seems the most likely.
The T-Wolves marched through Region 8 with a perfect 10-0 record and rank third in 5A in both scoring offense and defense.
Coach Izzy Ingle’s team has made 217 3-pointers this year, and is an incredibly balanced offensive team with Derik Eaquinto, Tyler Walker and Matt Norman all averaging in double figures.
“Our guys are so unselfish. I really believe we have three guys who could average 17, 18 points if they were in a different system, but they all kind of sacrifice a little bit of their own personal stats so the team can win,” said Ingle.
Timpanogos knows all about the Olympus offensive machine, losing in last year’s 4A quarterfinals 91-69. The Titans led 53-27 at the half as they made 11 first-half 3-pointers.
“We’ve definitely been paying attention to what they’re doing and our guys would love to get another shot at them,” said Ingle.
If a rematch happened, it would be in Saturday afternoon’s championship game.
To get there, Timpanogos must navigate an upper bracket of the 5A tourney that includes Region 5 champion Box Elder, along with dangerous teams East, Jordan, Corner Canyon and Highland.
In the bottom half of the bracket, Olympus could potentially face a rematch with Springville in the quarterfinals. Other contenders in the bottom half include Region 7 champion Timpview, along with Skyridge and Viewmont.