We're in the middle of the Utah prep basketball season now, and watching hoops is a great way to escape the doldrums of January.
I'm not a skier anymore, so prep sports has become my passion at this time of year. I like to follow - in particular - the schools in Region 6 because they are often so competitive.
Tonight I watched the Olympus at Highland game. I went there for a couple of reasons:
* - Recently, I met Tony Parks, who is the best PA announcer in the valley, and I wanted to see him in action.
* - I wanted to meet with Highland football coach Brody Benson on a particular matter.
* - I had heard that Highland had one of the best home-court advantages in the valley, mostly because their fans really get into it. I found that to be true.
It's the students ... really. Highland has good student involvement at its football games. It also has a band - at least it did for a portion of the first quarter. Those kinds of things really help a basketball team get wins on its home court.
Olympus won the game 51-35. Will Watkins and Corbin Green scored 13 points apiece as the Titans built a lead in the second quarter and never let Highland within six points.
Highland's problem was that it couldn't shoot. The Rams were 14-50 from the field (28%), and were particularly bad from three-point range (2-18).
Highland's coach is Keith West, and I like him. He preaches defense. The Rams are among the state's best in that category, and they force opponents to change their game. The Rams also had a 35-23 rebound advantage, so they got second chances on some of their missed shots.
For Olympus, the Titans couldn't find an inside scoring threat, but they have at least a half a dozen players who are comfortable shooting the three-pointer. Watkins was 3-3 from three-point land. Green, Connor Brady, Nick Paulos and Spencer Harris also canned long shots.
Last year, Spencer Hille was the top scorer but he is not the main player in this year's offense. Hille also seems to have a temper that he needs to control. I don't think he has found his niche on this year's team. When he does, this team will be tough to beat.
Green was funny. He's a big kid who can score inside and shoot the three-pointer. He didn't get a break on this night. He had foul troubles, although it wasn't his fault. When he got nailed with his second foul, the referees made a mistake and called it on him when the foul should have gone to another player. He sat out most of the second quarter. Still, he came back to nail a bunch of free throws in the second half and he played a decisive role in the outcome.
I figure Oly will challenge West for the Region 6 title. Highland might be lucky to earn a post-season berth. It needs to find someone who can score. Spenser Bowen, Taylor Brightwell or Jordan Crayton would be good candidates. We'll see what happens.
The next morning, I discovered there was a Deseret News reporter at the game - John Coon. I read his story, and he did a nice job. The mark of a good reporter is one who tells you things you didn't know, even if you were at the game. John did that here. I should have introduced myself to him. Oh well. Maybe next time.
While at the game, I kept detailed statistics. Here they are:
Olympus 14 12 8 17 - 51
Highland 12 4 8 11 - 35
OLYMPUS (51) - Hille 1-3 1-3 3, Bourne 0-3 2-4 2, Watkins 4-6 2-2 13, Green 1-5 10-13 13, Brady 2-5 0-0 6, Paulos 2-4 1-2 7, Harris 2-2 0-0 5, Spafford 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 12-28 18-26 51.
HIGHLAND (35) - Bowen 1-7 0-0 3, Brightwell 3-9 0-0 7, Orchard 1-7 2-2 4, Crayton 1-4 0-0 2, Heimuli 4-6 1-2 9, Angstman 0-1 0-0 0, Jensen 3-7 0-0 6, Fakahafua 1-8 2-2 4. Totals 14-50 5-6 35.
Total fouls: Highland 17, Olympus 10. Fouled out: none. 3-point goals: Olympus 9-16 (Watkins 3, Brady 2, Paulos 2, Harris, Green). Highland 2-18 (Bowen, Brightwell). Rebounds: Olympus 23 (Green, Brady 4), Highland 35 (Heimuli 13). Turnovers: Olympus 11, Highland 12.