They were just getting up and hounding us and trying to full-court press us, and usually the best way to attack it is beat it right away and get in the lane cause they have to come help you. —Olympus guard Rylan Jones
During a season in which Olympus shattered the state record for 3-pointers, the Titans proved in Friday’s quarterfinals that they have way more than just a bunch of shooters.
The Titan Triples weren’t falling early against Bountiful’s tenacious perimeter defense, so Olympus simply took what the defense was giving it and attacked the lane with lethal efficiency as it rolled to the 79-43 victory at the University of Utah.
“They were just getting up and hounding us and trying to full-court press us, and usually the best way to attack it is beat it right away and get in the lane cause they have to come help you,” said Olympus guard Rylan Jones.
With Jones pushing the pace in transition, Olympus enjoyed a massive 42-18 scoring edge in the paint and a 24-0 edge on fast-break points.
Bountiful was helpless to slow it down as Olympus improved to 26-0 this season and advanced to Saturday’s 11 a.m. state championship game against Corner Canyon.
Saturday will be Olympus’ third straight title game appearance. It won the school’s first-ever state title in 2016 and then lost the 2017 championship in double overtime.
Olympus coach Matt Barnes says the team doesn’t talk about last year’s heartbreaker but said he knows the players have a lot of “internal personal motivation” going into Saturday’s final.
“These are just so cool and so calm and just so confident,” said Barnes.
Jeremy Dowdell and Jones were both key contributors on that team last year, and they were outstanding in the semifinals with Dowdell scoring 26 points on 11 of 15 shooting and Jones recording 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Underdog Bountiful actually got off to a great start as Camron Chism hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the opening two minutes of the game to give the Braves an early 8-4 lead.
The Braves couldn’t sustain the quick start as they missed their seven other shots from behind the arc in the first half. Olympus, meanwhile, only made 3-of-11 3-pointers in the first half — low for a team that averages 10.8 3s per game.
The Titans, however, found plenty of other ways to score, demonstrating they’re not a one-dimensional team, as they made 14-of-15 shots inside the arc in the first half, finishing the half shooting 65 percent from the field.
Most of those buckets came at the rim as Bountiful slowed Olympus around the perimeter. Dowdell, Olympus’ most lethal 3-point shooter, went around his defenders numerous times making 8 of 8 shots in the paint leading all scorers at the half with 17 points.
“It just shows that Jeremy is not only a catch and shooter, he ran the floor, got to the rim, and he finishes well around the basket, he was strong with it,” said Barnes.
Jones pushed the pace the entire game, and on multiple occasions went coast-to-coast for a lay-up after pulling down a defensive rebound.
“If I get the rebound they have to try and find me in transition, I’ve already got the ball and that’s harder for them to stop me,” said Jones.
Olympus finished the game shooting 55 percent, but was at 63 percent when its five starters left the game with four minutes remaining and the Titans up 75-36.
Even though it usually goes unrecognized, Barnes attributed a huge chunk of Friday’s success to his team’s defensive effort in holding the Braves to just 33 percent shooting and holding them to 27 fewer points than they scored in a preseason meeting in January.
“It starts with our defense. People don’t believe that. People think we’re all about offense, but to win these things and be good you’ve got to defend,” said Barnes.