Lehi showed championship resiliency in Friday’s 5A semifinals.
After jumping out to an early double-digit lead on Olympus, Lehi had an answer every single time the Titans made a mini run and then pulled away in the fourth quarter for the 69-58 win to advance to Saturday’s championship.
Lehi scored on 16 of 24 possessions in the second half as it held off Olympus for the wire-to-wire victory.
“I think that was one of our better offensive games of the year, and it had to be because those guys were excellent and they shot well, too. That’s a good team,” said Lehi coach Quincy Lewis.
With the win, No. 3 seed Lehi advances to face No. 4 Farmington in the championship game at Salt Lake Community College Saturday at 5 p.m.
Lehi beat Farmington by 20 back in the third game of the season, but Lewis said toss that one out the window. Both teams have made tremendous strides since that early game at the Corner Canyon Tournament.
“We’ve come a long way. First game of the year, we’re up three on Westlake in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hold it, and we’ve come a long way over these two or three months and we have one more step,” said Lewis.
Lehi finished the game shooting 59% from the field and 9 of 18 from 3-point range. Noa Gonsalves led the way with 22 points, with Peter Amakasu chipping in 16.
The two accounted for 23 of Lehi’s 33 second-half points.
Down four at the half, Olympus cut Lehi’s lead to 36-35 on a 3-pointer to start the second half but Lehi answered quickly with a 13-3 run.
Amakasu scored eight of the points during the run.
“He’s capable of making hard plays, and you know what, we like to think that we’ve got all these plays that we run as coaches that are going to get us wide-open shots, but that’s just not the truth all the time. Sometimes it’s just a kid being in his space making a play,” said Lewis.
Olympus again clawed back and made it a one-possession game as Ben Krystkowiak buried a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, cutting Lehi’s lead to 56-53.
The Pioneers responded with five straight points on buckets by Gonsalves and Amakasu.
Olympus’ ran out of gas the rest of the way as it finished with just eight points in the fourth quarter.
Krystkowiak, Jack Wistrcill and Dutch Dowdell each scored 13 points for the Titans. Lewis was thrilled that his undersized defense was able hold Wistrcill to just 13. He credited Preston Varner, Tyler Trane and Grayson Brousseau each with taking turns guarding the 6-foot-8 junior center.
Lewis has guided Lehi into the championship game in his first year as head coach, and with a win on Saturday he’ll join legendary Provo coach Craig Drury with a state-record eight state championships.
He won seven titles during a wildly-successful run as Lone Peak’s coach from 2005 to 2014 before leaving Lone Peak after the 2015 season to be an assistant coach at BYU.
“It doesn’t get old, I can tell you that. Truthfully, (former coach) Sean Yeager is the guy who developed these guys, I’m just taking over what he gave me, and we’re just trying to take that last step,” said Lewis.