SALT LAKE CITY — Olympus is a bridesmaid no more.
There was a stretch in the second quarter of Saturday’s 4A championship in which the Titans appeared destined to bring back their seventh runner-up keepsake for the Olympus High trophy case. The players, however, found a way to fight through that adversity and make school history.
Down nine at the half, Olympus outscored Timpview by 16 points in the second half at the Huntsman Center to pull away for the 51-44 victory and its first state championship in school history after near misses in 1960, 1977, 1978, 1994, 2001 and 2012.
“Look at the community (support), look at the stands. We had 90 percent of the people here. You look behind our bench, there are thousands of people here that care, and it’s a great win for my guys,” said Olympus coach Matt Barnes, who’s been the head coach the past 19 years.
Olympus’ Isaac Monson, who was named the Deseret News tournament MVP, was one of the first players to run to Barnes in the postgame celebration after the Titans ended the game with an 11-3 run over the final 1:37.
“I’m so proud we were able to finally get coach Barnes one, cause he’s one of the best coaches in the state. I’m just so happy we could get this one for coach Barnes,” said Monson.
Monson finished with eight points and a stout 15 rebounds, a big reason why the Titans were able to rally for the victory. Olympus outrebounded Timpview 28-19. In the process, Monson set a new school record for rebounds in a season.
However, at halftime, things didn’t look good for Olympus.
Despite a bright start during which they raced to a 16-7 lead, the Titans were outscored 20-2 over the next nine minutes and found themselves trailing 27-18 at the break.
“We just got out of sync a little bit. They got into us and ran us off the line a bit and then we made some careless decisions,” said Barnes.
Monson said Timpview played tougher in that second quarter and that Olympus' coaches challenged the Titans to leave it all on the court. Barnes also reminded them it wasn’t going to come all at once, that they’d have to grind possession by possession in the third quarter.
Sure enough, Olympus came out and scored on six of its first seven possessions to cut the deficit to 32-30 with 3:21 remaining thanks to a 3-pointer by Nate Fox. Then, less than two minutes later, Monson tied the game 32-32 on a layup.
Monson buried Olympus’ sixth and final 3-pointer late in the third as Olympus took a 35-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
Neither offense could get much going offensively in the fourth quarter. Timpview’s first seven points in the quarter all came from the free-throw line, and when Baxter made 1 of 2 with 1:56 remaining, the T-Birds led 41-40.
Matt Lindsay responded with a three-point play at the other end to give Olympus a 43-41 lead with 1:37 remaining.
The Titans would never trail again.
Timpview missed a close-range shot that would’ve tied the game on its ensuing possession, and after that, the Titans went 8 for 8 from the line to seal the victory.
BYU-bound Baxter led all scorers with 18 points, but nothing came easy for him, as Lindsey forced Baxter into a 3-of-14 shooting performance.
After shooting 50 percent in the first half, everyone for the T-Birds struggled in the second half offensively. Timpview made only 3 of 20 shots from the field in the final two quarters.
With 55.5 seconds remaining, two free throws by Miles Keller, who led the Titans with 16 points, increased the lead to 45-41 and started the party in Olympus’ raucous student section.
“We’ve won multiple, multiple regions, coach Barnes probably has a decade of them. Regions are fun, but there’s nothing better than state," Keller said after the historic win. "It’s such a fun time for the community that surrounds us."
Boys 4A All-Tournament Team
MVP — Isaac Monson, Olympus
Matt Lindsey, Olympus
Miles Keller, Olympus
Gavin Baxter, Timpview
AJ Bollinger, Timpview
Brevin Elsholz, Highland
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org