TAYLORSVILLE — Highland guard Taryn Johnson has been dubbed 'The Shark' by her teammates, and the description fit her play perfectly during the Rams' 51-41 win over Woods Cross in the quarterfinal round of the 5A state playoffs on Wednesday.
Johnson hit just two 3-pointers in the game although the impact of both played big in the final outcome.
The first one came after the Rams had struggled through much of the first half, and found themselves down 20-16 at the clock wound down. Then, out of the corner, Johnson got the ball behind the arc and swished it, drawing her team to within one point at the break and her team a charge of momentum.
“They call me a shark because I love to hide away, and when it’s time, I attack when they’re most vulnerable,” Johnson said. “So whenever I need to I hit those 3s, and I try to keep us in the game and pumped up.”
Highland turned the tables in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 19-5 en route to a commanding 38-25 lead entering the fourth quarter. The final three points of the quarter belonged to Johnson, who again beat the buzzer to perfectly cap a quarter in which her team dominated throughout.
“She just hides in that corner there, and nobody worries about her, and then next thing you know she’s got it and she’s wide open. And she hits them,” said Highland coach Kurt Schneider. “She’s a good, pure shooter.”
Johnson finished with 11 points, but the biggest stats belonged to Highland senior Svetlana Olevao, who finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds, doing her best work throughout the second half.
“Lana was probably the biggest factor,” Schneider said of Olevao's play. “She was kind of out of it a little bit, but she refocused and just took over the game.”
Some of the refocus perhaps came with the boost provided by Johnson entering the half, but mostly from a will to advance to the semifinal round.
“It’s just wanting to win. I wanted to win this game so bad, so I guess it really showed,” Olevao said.
Things started well for the Rams until the second quarter, when the Wildcats pushed the tempo and took a lead right before the half. From there Schneider implored his players to get back to Highland basketball, which he defined as slowing the pace of play and really locking down on the defensive end.
His team responded and didn't allow a single field goal for much of the third quarter, extending into the first half of the fourth. When Woods Cross did score, it mostly came from Olivia Barton, who contributed a team-high 19 points and Sara Noel, who added 11.
With the win Highland advances to the semifinal round where it will take on East.