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High school boys basketball: Olympus gets off to fast start, earns 4A quarterfinal win over Highland

SHARE High school boys basketball: Olympus gets off to fast start, earns 4A quarterfinal win over Highland

SALT LAKE CITY — It did not take long for Olympus to take over.

Just two minutes into the first quarter of the Titans' 65-50 victory over Highland in the 4A boys quarterfinals, coach Matt Barnes' team already held a six-point lead.

By the end of the period, the Titans were up by 10 points and, against a suffocating Olympus press defense, the Rams never had a chance of closing the gap.

"That's kind of our M.O." Barnes said. "We press and get up and run, so we went with it and it really helped us a ton."

The Titans forced 14 turnovers over the course of the game and turned them into 20 points on the offensive end.

"We got five, six easy baskets on turnovers," Barnes said. "It just helped build the lead. Seth (Crofts) was great jumping into the passing lane and Al (Monson) was good on the ball. It kind of just threw them (Highland) for a loop a little bit and we converted. It was a big key to our success tonight."

On top of the press, the Titans also ran an aggressive half-court defense. From it, they totaled nine steals, seven alone by Crofts, and limited Henry Morris, the Rams' top scorer all season, to just four points.

"We have a nice fortune this year where we have a lot of guys who are about the same size," Barnes said, "so we switch a lot of those screens and really try and push them out and make it tough on them. We did a great job, I thought, on Morris and even (Brandon) Warr."

Warr finished with 12 points, three above his season average, and six rebounds. Morris had three assists and one rebound, while Jake Connor led all Highland scorers with 22 points along with three rebounds and an assist.

Meanwhile, four different Olympus players reached double figures as the Titans shot 58.1 percent from the floor, and another player had seven assists to extend the lead to its largest margin of 20 points with 1:55 left in the third quarter.

"It's all about the team and it's all about playing together," said Barnes. "Any time you can get this far, get to the semis, it takes everybody. Whether it's two minutes, five minutes, whatever, I'm just very proud of my guys."

Senior Alec Monson led the Olympus charge with 23 points and nine rebounds; Spencer Williams scored 14 points and finished 4 for 7 from the floor; and Alex Williams and Crofts had 13 points each. Connor Haller had seven of the Titans' 11 assists in addition to three boards, a block and a steal.

"You've got to give Seth a lot of credit," Barnes said, noting his growth over the course of the season as well as his ability to step in after Jake Lindsey was sidelined with a broken hand. "Conner and Spence handling things and hitting shots, obviously everything we do runs through Al, but I'm very proud of my guys. It was a great team win."

With the win, the Titans advance to play Bountiful in the semifinals at 4:10 p.m. on Friday. The two teams have not yet met this season, but Barnes is pretty sure he knows what to expect.

"Bountiful's fantastic," the coach said. "They've had a great year. They've got size. They've got two D-I guys. Obviously we're short-handed without Jake, but that's why they play the games.

"Like I told my guys, be excited to get to the semifinals. It's a huge accomplishment and everyone's wanted to play Bountiful sometime and now it's coming in the semis. We're excited, but we know the challenge ahead."

Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.