West Valley City • Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good — that’s what the Olympus Titans are bound to be saying to themselves after a close shave in the Class 4A boys’ basketball playoffs Wednesday afternoon.
Olympus missed three of its final four free throws, gave a star player three chances to shoot a game-tying or game-winning basket, and still survived a 59-55 brush with East in the quarterfinals at Maverik Center.
To Olympus’ credit, it took a lot to get to a point where luck even mattered.
“We got lucky, but we kept battling and fighting,” coach Matt Barnes said. “It was just a crazy game.”
It took a mammoth offensive effort in the second half to even get the lead back for the Titans, who advanced to the semifinals after losing in the quarterfinals last year. Senior forward Will Cannon had a quiet start, but finished with 19 points, going 13 for 17 from the free throw line.
Olympus held junior guard Parker Van Dyke to only 7-of-26 shooting from the field, but he still scored 23 points. The most important stops came at the end, however: Van Dyke missed three consecutive 3-point attempts that could’ve given East the lead or tied it up.
Cannon made a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left to give Olympus a 3-point lead, but Stuart Pace missed two, and then Nick Barney missed a third. Barney finally gave the Titans some breathing room by making his last foul shot with 5 seconds left.
Enrique Regalado missed the Leopards’ final attempt.
“I was like, ‘Seriously guys, I don’t know how many years left I have to coach like this,’ ” Barnes said. “It’s a lot of pressure — that what this is all about.”
The Titans’ greatest challenge was coming back down 11 points near the end of the second half. After Olympus got a 15-9 lead to start, East went on a 16-0 run led by Van Dyke and Arik Mawien. Van Dyke was the threat from the outside, but Mawien showed strong post moves, finishing with 15 points and flustering Cannon.
Senior 6-foot-7 forward Parker Rawlings helped get Olympus back on track, scoring 16 points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and adding three blocks. His energy helped spur life into the Titans in a 23-point third quarter.
“We wanted to utilize our quickness,” Rawlings said. “They sagged off of me a lot, so when I was looking at those 3-pointers, I just had to shoot them.”
Olympus rallies to get to the semifinals
Titans rally down nine points at the half to come back for a close win.
Will Cannon leads the Titans with 19 points, while Parker Rawlings adds 16.
Parker Van Dyke scores 23 but makes just 7 of 26 shots from the floor.