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Dominant Titans head into postseason as 5A favorites

Mar 07, 2018 01:02PM

Jacob DowDell goes for a layup against Murray earlier this season. (Photo/Julie Williams)

It’s one thing to roll through a season undefeated, but the Olympus boys basketball team has performed at an entirely different level. 

Few teams have even challenged the Titans this season.

Heading into its Feb. 16 game at home against East, Olympus was 21-0 overall and a perfect 8-0 in league play. At press deadline, the Titans also had a Feb. 20 contest at Skyline on the schedule; those two contests were the final of what has been a magical regular season for the deep, talented team. Considering Olympus defeated East 87-66 in the previous meeting and crushed Skyline 106-38 the first time the teams got together this season, it’s a safe bet the Titans will enter the Class 5A state tournament with an unblemished record. 

No other team in the state can say that this season.

The Titans have had just two games this season that were decided by single digits. The closest any Region 6 foe has come to Olympus was 21 points, which happened twice: a 70-49 victory over Highland on Jan. 19 and the aforementioned win over East on Jan. 26. Four of Olympus’ region wins were by at least 32 points. 

Olympus has scored at a video game–like pace — at least by high school standards, where quarters are only eight minutes long. The Titans have a pair of 100-point-plus games and have also eclipsed 90 points six times and 80 points an eye-opening 15 times. 

Once the postseason begin, head coach Matthew Barnes doesn’t anticipate that his team to wilt under the pressure, even though all eyes will be on the Titans. 

“I expect the boys to continue playing the way we have all year,” he said. “Playing together and with confidence will be very important.”

Because Olympus has routed so many opponents and have racked up so many points, it shouldn’t be surprising that the team has balanced scoring and an array of weapons that has caused other teams fits. Four different Titans average double figures in scoring, and three of them score around 18 points a game or more. Junior Jeremy DowDell paces the team with his 21 points per game average. Senior Harrison Creer and junior Rylan Jones — who has already committed to play college basketball at the University of Utah — each average in the neighborhood of 18 points an outing. Senior Spencer Jones chips in with 10 points per game. Senior Jacob DowDell isn’t far behind with nine points per game. 

Of course, Olympus is about much more than scoring. The team has been successful because the individual members have played together unselfishly on both ends of the court. Rylan, for example, is far and away the leader in assists among all players in the class 5A. He dishes out nearly nine assists per game, he’s also tops in that category among all players in Utah. 

Creer leads the team in rebounds with more than six a game, with Rylan Jones and Spencer Jones not far behind. Rylan Jones also averages more than two steals a game. His efforts are just a small part of a Titans defense that has limited foes to poor shooting. Olympus has held opponents under 60 points 11 times, an impressive feat considering the pace at which it plays.

The Titans will head into the state tournament as Region 6’s top seed and will face the fourth-place team from Region 7 at Weber State University in the first round. The postseason gets underway Feb. 26. Barnes said limiting what the other teams do on offense would be critical to his team’s success.

“I always talk about playing our game, and it starts on the defensive end,” he said. “We have to continue to do what makes us good and continue playing the right way.”

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