Highland 65, Bountiful 59

Behind a strong second half from George McConkie and Isaiah Drisdom, Highland found a way to come from behind and defeat Bountiful 65-59 to advance to the semifinals of the boys 5A state tournament Saturday.

McConkie had a stellar game, leading the way with 27 points and 17 rebounds. For Drisdom’s part, he helped lead his team with 17 points, six assists and three rebounds.

In the losing effort, Bountiful had the scoring spread out, with Bryson Heath scoring 17 points and Carson Smith and Faletau Satuala both scoring 16.

“Credit to Bountiful. They had an unbelievable year. They are really good and really hard to deal with. They have a lot of really good players that presented problems for us,” said Highland head coach Chris Jones.

Bountiful was in control for the majority of the first half, largely due to its shooting and outrebounding Highland.

In the first half, Bountiful shot 55% from the field and 80% from 3-point range and outrebounded Highland by eight.

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Jones knew what his team is capable of and that if his players just stayed the course in the second half, they could get the victory.

Indeed, it was a different story in the second half. The Highland defense stepped up when it needed to most, holding Bountiful to 30% shooting in the second half and outrebounding the Redhawks by 15.

The game plan for Highland, as it always is, was to play through McConkie, something that worked well as the game went on.

“We weren’t us in the first half and Bountiful had a lot to do with that,” Jones said. “I just challenged them at halftime to just be us and if we lose we lose, but let’s go be us.

“George’s ball started going in. We play through George and throw it to him in the post. That’s what we do. In the first half he missed a lot of shots right around the basket that normally go in. In the second half, we didn’t break character from what we do. We continued to play through George and George was on in the second half.”

Next up for Highland is Olympus in the semifinals. Each team won at the other’s place during the regular season, so Jones knows his team is in for a tough battle.

“Obviously we beat Olympus at our place in a really hard, tough game by one in overtime and then they had their way with us when we played there,” Jones said.

“We’re just looking forward to the matchup. Olympus is playing at a really high level, but we know our guys will be ready to play.”

Olympus 76, Skyline 43

Both teams came out swinging in an extremely physical first half as No. 2 seed Olympus and 10th-seeded Skyline battled for a spot in the 5A semifinals.

Olympus went into the half with an eight-point lead, but its offense exploded for 44 second half points and the Titans won 76-43 to complete a season sweep of Skyline.

The Eagles managed to keep the game close until the third quarter when Olympus found a groove and steadily built its lead.

Titans seniors Dutch DowDell and Reef Smylie, alongside sophomore Gavin Lowe, propelled the team.

“We just kind of executed and tried to be a little more patient and make them guard,” Olympus head coach Matt Barnes said. “Jordy (Barnes) got guys moving to get some easy baskets and got things rolling.”

Jordan Barnes was a pivotal part of the Titans’ impressive offensive showing, recording 10 assists in each half to tie the Utah state record for assists with 20.

“He’s been terrific all year. He just plays the right way. He’s our guy that makes it go, but he is unselfish,” Matt Barnes said.

High school boys basketball: 6A/5A/4A/3A/2A/1A state tournament scores and schedules

That unselfish attitude was evident by Barnes’ 20 assists without attempting a single shot. The trio of DowDell, Smylie and Lowe combined for 68 of Olympus’ 76 points, most of them coming off passes from Barnes.

Karson Kaufusi scored 10 of the first 13 points for Skyline, including eight in the first quarter alone, but was unable to find the bottom of the net throughout the rest of the game.

Landon Shaw led the Eagles with 16.

The momentum of the game shifted immensely during a four minute stretch of the third quarter in which Skyline was held scoreless by a tough Olympus defense.

The Titans capitalized on three straight offensive fouls on Skyline, punctuated by a 3-pointer from DowDell to end the quarter.

Olympus then coasted to victory in the fourth quarter, including Jordan Barnes’ 20th assist with a beautiful dime to a cutting Smylie. 

“Give them credit... they found a way to win two big games to make it here. They gave us all we wanted and we had to step up in the second half,” said coach Barnes of Skyline.

This game marked the end of a stellar season for Skyline, one in which it upset No. 7 seed Springville in the second round to make it to the quarterfinal.

The road doesn’t end here for Olympus, as it advances to the 5A semifinals with an eye on the 5A title.

“Happy for my guys, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Matt Barnes said.

Alta 70, Brighton 60

It was a game of runs.

That was the feeling Alta head coach Travis Ohrn had after his team pulled away late, ultimately defeating Brighton 70-60 in the quarterfinals of the 5A state boys basketball tournament Saturday.

“Tough game,” Ohrn said. “Brighton plays so hard. They play very physical and stuck to their game plan. I’m just so proud of our guys for playing for the full 32 minutes.

“We always talk about how it’s a game of runs. It’s the state tournament and you never know so you just have to stick it out and stay the course. We executed down the stretch and made some big buckets.”

Alta had several players who put up big numbers and contributed heavily to the victory for the top seed in the tournament.

Carter Doleac led the way in scoring with 26 points to go along with four rebounds and two steals, while Jaxon Johnson also had a stellar game and filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 12 rebounds, five steals, four blocks and three assists.

Although the Hawks pulled away, Brighton came out ready to go toe-to-toe with the powerhouse that is Alta.

Brighton shot lights out in the first half, shooting 56% overall from the field and 72% from the 3-point line. but Alta’s defense stepped up in a big way in the second half and held Brighton to just 35% shooting.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on, is the defense,” Ohrn said. “In the second half we just said that we had to go back to contesting shots, rebounding better and luckily they missed some shots in the second half and we capitalized.

“We are so long and athletic that if we play together as a team, we can really lock guys down and I’m just proud of our guys for the way they played.”

While Brighton may have seen its season end earlier than it was hoping, the Bengals had several players stand out and put together impressive performances.

Bradley Easton led Brighton in scoring by putting up 25 points, including seven 3s. Jaxon Soto and Nash Matheson also left their mark on the game with 16 and 14 points, respectively.

Next up for Alta is a date with a familiar foe in Timpview, a team Ohrn is looking forward to and one he knows his guys will need to be well-prepared for.

“It’s going to be a great game,” Ohrn said. “(Coach) Izzy (Ingle) does a great job at Timpview and I have so much respect for him and his program.

“We’ve been on the big stage before going up against each other, so it’ll be fun to go out and compete. We just have to get our guys ready and do what we do.”

Timpview 55, Orem 54

Timpview’s Aisa Galea’I sunk a free throw late and pushed Timpview to the 55-54 victory over cross-town rival Orem in the quarterfinals of the boys 5A state tournament Saturday.

Timpview was led by Dean Rueckert and Will Openshaw, who scored 15 and 10 points, respectively. Rueckert also had four rebounds and three assists, while Openshaw grabbed five rebounds of his own.

In the losing effort, Orem had the scoring spread throughout the team, with Jax Allen, Asher Young and Chance Dastrup scoring 12 points apiece.

“It was a dogfight and we know that’s what everyone expects, even if it’s a game in July. We know them very well and it’s always a 1-point game or overtime game every time we play them, always a dogfight to the finish and it’s nice to come out on the right side this time,” said Timpview head coach Izzy Ingle.

It was a very even first quarter with both teams keeping the intensity high and trading buckets, with the score knotted at 11 at the end.

The second quarter was dominated by Orem, which started the frame on a 6-0 run and eventually took a double-digit lead into the half with a 31-21 score.

Timpview was able to turn things around in a big way in the third quarter, dominating on both ends of the floor.

The offense for Timpview caught fire quickly and was able to score 21 points in the quarter, while the defense held Orem to just 10 points in the frame.

The dominant quarter gave Timpview a slim 42-41 lead heading into the final frame. It was a defensive battle in the fourth quarter, and with the score tied at 54-54, Galea’i was fouled with two seconds left. He made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, securing the victory for Timpview.

“We were just calm and composed,” Ingle said. “These games are always about who can adapt the best. We had to adapt the game as it went on and we made some adjustments in the second half that really turned things around for us.”

While Orem dominated the paint by scoring 32 points to Timpview’s 18, Timpview held the advantage in points off turnovers 15-6.

Orem had a very tough go of it shooting wise early on, only shooting 30% in the first half, and then Timpview ended up converting over 50% of its field goal attempts.

Next for Timpview, it will meet a familiar opponent in Alta, a team it lost to in the championship last year. There is no doubt Timpview will be looking for revenge in hopes of continuing its tournament run.