In the 5A quarterfinals earlier this week, neither Alta nor Olympus shot well from beyond the arc despite both winning comfortably by double digits.
Two days later, the frustrations continued from long range for one of those teams at the Dee Events Center, while the other had a dream night shooting on the big stage of the 5A semifinals.
Alta made 12 of 24 3-pointers, including a staggering 6 of 8 in the third quarter when it slammed the door shut on top seed Olympus, as the Hawks rolled to the 71-51 victory at the Dee Events Center to advance to its first state championship game in 10 years.
“I think just being here the second night, those jitters kind of went away and we said to the guys, ‘Just go play basketball, that’s what you’re good at,’” said Alta coach Travis Ohrn.
Alta proved during the regular season that it was capable of getting red hot from 3, reaching double-digits seven different times, including 15 in a win over Jordan. Until a couple of random misses late in the shot clock in the final minutes, Alta was close to 60% from 3-point range on the night, while cold-shooting Olympus misfired all night making just 4 of 24.
Olympus’ top two offensive weapons, Dutch DowDell and Jordan Barnes, combined for 2 of 16 3-pointers and just 20 points, and Ohrn credits his guys Jaxon Johnson and Ace Reiser for excelling at those defensive assignments.
With the victory, Alta advances to Saturday’s 7 p.m. state championship against the winner of the Timpview-Orem semifinal.
“It’s going to be tough. It doesn’t matter what happened in the regular season, when you get on this stage anyone can beat anybody. So we’ve got to get dialed in and do what we do and focus on us,” said Ohrn.
Reiser led Alta offensively on Friday with 21 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3, while he also added 10 assists, many on kick outs to wide-open shooters on the perimeter.
“It felt good, in warmups I was just trying to keep the stress and stay loose, and once I hit my first one in that first quarter it opened up pretty big for me,” said Reiser.
Johnson added 16 points with a pair of 3-pointers while Nash Hinck chipped in with 13 points on three 3-pointers.
Dash Reiser also made two 3-pointers while Carter Goodfellow made one.
“We have guys who work so hard, put a ton of time in the gym, and in big moments they shine. We always tell the guys to shoot your shot. We have confidence in you guys to shoot it because you put in the work, so don’t hesitate, let it fly,” said Ohrn.
Olympus led 12-11 midway through the first quarter, but Alta closed the quarter on an 11-2 run as Johnson buried two 3s and Ace Reiser added his second of the quarter.
Alta pushed the lead to 35-24 by halftime, and then quickly came out and put the game away in the third quarter making 6 of 8 3-pointers, including three from Hinck and two from Reiser.
By the end of the quarter, Alta led 55-37 as Olympus made just 1 of 7 3s in the quarter.
“Basketball is a game of runs and we just kept preaching, ‘Guys, this second half the first four minutes are crucial for us, let’s go on a run and blow this thing open.’ We had guys step up and make huge shots and get big stops down there,” said Ohrn.
One of the unsung heroes for Alta was big man Carter Doleac, who finished with just six points, but grabbed 11 rebounds, including six offensive.
“He does so many things that don’t show up in the boxscore, so many times he goes in and tips the ball out, gives us an extra possession, he doesn’t get credit for the offensive rebound, but he creates so many of those for us. He gets all those effort plays, that’s why we’re at where we’re at,” said Ohrn.
For Olympus, while there weren’t many bright spots in scoring a season-low 51 points, freshman Gavin Lowe had a second-straight strong performance scoring 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting as he’ll be one of three returning starters for the Titans next year with DowDell and Barnes.
For Alta, four of its starters are underclassmen and it’s now one win away from putting an even bigger target on its back next year.