Olympus’s path to the 5A state championship finals may look easy from a distance, but coach Matt Barnes insists that’s not the case from his courtside point of view.
The Titans, one of the state’s top-scoring teams, took Bonneville’s best shot in Wednesday’s semifinal matchup at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Still, Jack Wistrcill’s 28 points and 11 rebounds was more than enough as Olympus downed the Lakers 60-43.
The victory moved the Titans into Saturday’s championship game, which will be held at BYU’s Marriott Center. Olympus improved its record to 25-1 and, with the exception of a fourth-quarter disaster at Davis two months ago, is among the most-dominant teams in its division in recent history.
“We only focus on one game at a time,” said Barnes. “I never know who we’re going to play next until our previous game is over.”
Once they’re focused, the Titans are tough. With the 6-foot-8 Wistrcill scoring at will, Olympus led 17-4 after the first quarter and Bonneville never got any closer. The Lakers eventually limited his scoring opportunities, but he never cooled. Anthony Olsen added 10 points and Dutch Dowdell nine.
Olympus’ lead was 10-20 points most of the game and could have been more. Bonneville’s frantic defensive pressure on the perimeter helped limit the Titans to just 39 shots.
Wistrcill, though, made 12 of 18 shots from all over the court. Defensively, Olympus also defended the perimeter well. Despite being the tallest player on the court, Wistrcill frequently moved from underneath and that forced the Lakers to just 3 of 20 from long range. Bonneville’s Bo Dixon finally made a pair in the final period — on his way to a team-high 14 points — but it was not nearly enough.
The fourth-seeded Lakers, who made it to the semis after an exciting 55-54 win over Alta Monday, can be proud to say they held Olympus to its second-lowest scoring total of the season (the only time the Titans scored fewer was in their loss). Bonneville, however, needed an extra-special night offensively to pull off this upset but made just 17 of 56 (30%) and most were challenged by Olympus defenders.
The Lakers were also outrebounded. Not surprisingly, Wistrcill grabbed 11 boards but the speedy Jordan Barnes, the coach’s son, led with 12, and nine assists.
“These games are so different (at the Huntsman Center) and the atmosphere is great,” said Wistrcill, who has already accepted a scholarship to Northern Arizona. “We got off to a great start, and all of our fans were into it.”
Wistrcill said Olympus has also played motivated. The Titans won state championships in 2016 and 2018 and seemed headed for another last year when they fell to eventual champion Lehi in the semifinals.
“It takes a lot to get here (to the championship),” Barnes said. “You have to bring your best and every team you play is gunning for you. We’re excited.”
The title game will also be at BYU’s Marriott Center after the University of Utah served as host for the last two rounds.
“I’ve never been there,” Barnes said. “You never know what might happen.”