Olympus Titans rally past Woods Cross to win 5A state basketball title

The victory was Titans coach Matt Barnes’ third state championship

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) the Olympus titans celebrate their win in the 5A State Championship game between Woods Cross and Olympus, at the Marriott Center in Provo, on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

Provo • A seven-point deficit midway through the third quarter might not ordinarily be a huge point of concern.

But in a state title game where points were certainly scarce, Olympus was staring a huge disappointment right in the face. The top-seeded Titans, having only lost one contest all season, trailed underdog Woods Cross until the start of the fourth quarter of the Class 5A boys’ basketball championship.

This afternoon belonged to Olympus ultimately, however, as the Titans bounced back and beat the Wildcats 40-31 to capture the state crown.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Olympus Titan, center, Jack Wistrcill (15) and Jordan Barnes (2) celebrate the Titan's win over the Wildcats, in the 5A State Championship game between Woods Cross and Olympus, at the Marriott Center in Provo, on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

“It was a tough game to come back from, but we trusted our guys all year,” said Olympus senior Jack Wistrcill, who finished with seven points and yanked down six rebounds. “All year, we’ve been waiting for this moment, man. When big time comes, big time players step up.”

“I feel like a state champion and it feels amazing,” Titans sophomore Dutch Dowdell said after leading all players with 23 points. “I love it.”

Olympus (26-1), whose only defeat this season was to 6A Davis, trailed 21-16 at half before two buckets by Dowdell cut the lead to one. But Woods Cross (18-9), seeking its first title since 1983, quickly wrangled back control — or so it seemed.

The Wildcats, led by Jaxon Smith’s 11 points, scored six straight points capped by buckets from Alex Brey and Zack DeLange, for a 27-21 advantage with 4:38 left in the third.

That’s when Olympus went to work.

“They’re gonna try to make us play D, they’re gonna try to spread us out,” Olympus coach Matt Barnes said. “We’ve just got to go to work and guard, then we got to score — and we did.

“State tournaments are different, they’re more aggressive, physical,” the Titans coach added. “I told them at halftime that we have to be a little tougher, we’ve got to take that hit, we’ve got to convert it to make a play.”

Before time ran out in the third stanza, Olympus was back in a tie game. Jordan Barnes, son of the coach, fed an assist for one bucket to Dowdell, who then rattled in a deep top-of-the-key 3-pointer with 1:30 left. With 40 seconds left in the period, Wistrcill scored on an inbounds play to deadlock the contest.

To start the fourth, Dowdell got on the board again for a 29-27 advantage — Olympus’ first lead of the game. After a free throw by DeLange, Woods Cross wouldn’t register another point until the last minute.

By then, Olympus had built up a 39-28 advantage as Wistrcill, Dowdell, Anthony Olsen and Barnes all got on the board in the deciding stretch.

“We turned the tables and got that lead. With three minutes to go, I pulled out, which I don’t normally do,” Matt Barnes said of his decision to take the air out of the ball with a controlled delay offensively.

The Olympus coach also said his team had not been in a game like this all season long. The Titans previous low for scoring output was that one loss to Davis, when Olympus tallied 55.

“They grinded it out and just played D. I told my guys to just hang in there and play it one possession at a time,” Barnes said. “Everyone talks about our offense all the time, how good our offense is. Yeah, it’s pretty potent, pretty good, but our defense has been terrific this year - and that’s what really carried us for the most part.”

All three state championships in Olympus school history have been under Barnes. The previous two were in 2016 and 2018.

“I don’t think words can express it honestly, it’s the best feeling in the world,” said Wistrcill in the midst of the post-game celebration. “Every kid dreams of this. I moved here as a sophomore, we were in a situation last year losing in the state semis and this year we’ve come back to win it all.”

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