Prep basketball: Olympus achieved a lot, despite loss
The immediate aftermath was a sad reality: advancing as far as possible without experiencing the ultimate glory.
And when Olympus initially tried to swallow the bitter taste of Saturday's 58-50 loss to Orem in the Class 4A state title game, it was understandably difficult. The tears flowed. Matt Barnes was an emotional head coach when speaking to reporters, and many wondered what would have been had Orem not gone on a lengthy first-half run.
But, digging a little deeper revealed the knowledge of the Titans accomplishing much more than being simply a runner-up who didn't have the goods to be the best.
"We had seven seniors this year and every one of them were fantastic," Barnes said. "They were as close as can be. I can't thank them enough for their hard work."
Olympus required chemistry to rebound from what was a difficult start to the season. The Titans lost three of their first four games and didn't look good in doing so. They looked lost on both sides of the floor. The lack of a go-to player was evident.
Slowly, however, Olympus started to rebound. Will Cannon emerged as a guy who could be counted on for points every night. The Titans started to assert themselves inside and the defense improved as the year progressed.
Eventually, Olympus developed into the type of team that nobody wanted to see during playoff time, the team that peaked at the right time.
"These guys kept battling and never gave up and that made a big difference," Barnes said. "We played hard all the way 'til the end. Guys knew that one steal, one turnover and things could change."
On Saturday, Olympus rallied several times, making the game interesting throughout. The character the Titans showed highlighted the trust seniors developed for each other. Bonding off the court was touted as a reason. Parker Rawlings spoke of hot tub outings at Jackson Coleman's house. And the friendship off the court carried over to the games.
Last week, Olympus played its best basketball of the season. The Titans' biggest win, arguably, came over East. Defeating the team featuring Parker Van Dyke, one of the best players in the state, wasn't easy. But Olympus was able to do that and make it through the week with defense, long-range shooting and making plays down the stretch.
Ultimately, Orem had the star power the Titans largely lacked. On Saturday, Zach Hunsaker and Jordan Darger proved to be too much.
"The things we did together this year will stick with us for the rest of our lives," Rawlings said. "We're sad over the loss, but we love each other and we're proud of what we accomplished.
Tribune reporter Kyle Goon contributed to this report.
Titans overcome rough start
Olympus started the season 1-3
Advanced to the Class 4A state title game
The Titans lost to Orem in the title game on Saturday, 58-50.