Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Olympus Beats Bingham

High school basketball in Utah is in full swing and, on Dec. 15, I attended a game between top-ranked Bingham and Olympus.

I was considering the West Jordan at Brighton contest, but I received word that the Deseret News would be there. Since part of my goal is to cover games the other media doesn't, I chose Oly-Bingham because I thought it would be a great matchup.

It was. Nicholas Paulos scored 22 points, and Paulos, Ben Sonntag and Joe Bourne hit some key free throws down the stretch as the Titans held off Bingham 68-63 in a non-region game.

It was Bingham's first loss. The game had a great high-school atmosphere. Oly led for most of it, but Bingham made a nice rally to make it close at the end. Certainly Bingham wasn't happy to lose, but the Miners played hard and showed a lot of grit.

To read my game story, click here, and then scroll to the game.

Afterward, I found Bingham coach Mark Dubach and asked to interview him. Dubach is a volatile coach during the game, but was very nice afterward. However, he declined to be interviwed. He said, "I only talk after wins."

I guess we can add that little eccentricity to our knowledge of Dubach. I had spoken to him earlier in the day, and he seemed like a nice guy. There's a lot more to learn about him, so now I know.

I found Olympus coach Matt Barnes, and he always likes to talk to the media. Barnes said he and Dubach attended Olympus High together back in the mid-1980s. Barnes was the school's basketball star (judging from all the school records he owns) and he said Dubach was the school's baseball phenom.

Barnes talked about his team. He said Paulos is still recovering from mononucleosis, but is getting into form on the basketball court. Paulos had a great game, nailing 6-6 free throws (the fans call him "automatic") and a couple of three-pointers. He's a good guy to have the ball near the end of the game.

Will Watkins sported a cut near is right eye in practice Monday. The cut was covered with a bandage during the game, but reopened when he got hit while battle Shad Sommerville for a rebound. He had to leave the game with a trainer, but returned shortly afterward.

What makes Olympus so impressive is they four players who are 6-6, one 6-5 and three 6-4 guys. And they can all play.

If Oly could get Bourne to shoot a little better (2-6 on free throws tonight), they would be a state title contender.

Here are a few other things I noticed:

* - Bingham's MVP was Sommerville. The guy is dynamite. He had 23 points, and seemed to score whenever Bingham needed it. If I had to pick one guy from Bingham's lineup for my team, he would be my choice.
* - Ben Clifford is good, too. He's 6-8, and had a nice game with 19 points and seven rebounds, even though he was in foul trouble. He also seems to be a man of many talents. Late in the game, Bingham set up a play for Clifford to shoot a three-pointer. It was a nice shot, but missed. Still, the fact that the play was set up for him says something.
* - Late in the game, when Clifford had four fouls, Oly tried to get him to commit another. Several Bingham players came to his aid, and that was impressive, even to Oly fans.
* - I was also impressed with Oly's Andrew Pellatt. He's the 6-5 guy who was often matchup against Clifford. Pellatt didn't show me much against Box Elder, but he was awesome against Bingham. He had six points and six rebounds, and made several big plays. He's also another example of how deep Olympus seems to be.
* - Lastly, Bingham's three top players (Sommerville, Nate Girsberger and Clifford) accounted for 58 of Bingham's 63 points. The Miners need more help from guys like Ty Hannay, Michael Arnell, Spencer Brown, Logan Parker, etc... If Bingham is going to win the 5A state title, at least one other guy has to step up.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Covering Olympus-Box Elder

Today was a fun day. I was getting ready to attend a local high school basketball game when James Edward, the prep editor of the Deseret News, called and asked me to cover a game.
He suggested the Olympus-Box Elder matchup, so I headed over there tonight. There wasn’t a big crowd, but it was an entertaining game.
Olympus won 50-36, but only pulled it out at the end, scoring the game's final 16 points. Afterward, I thought Box Elder coach Keith Mecham might be bent out of shape, but he was a class act.
I also debuted my new stat sheet, and it worked beautifully. There is a box score at the bottom of this blog (below). Now I'm able to keep multiple stats faster. I'm excited to cover future games.
As for this game, here are a few things I noticed:
* - Oly can't shoot. At least not yet. They hit just 35 percent of their shots (3-16 from three-point land). Point guard Joe Bourne threw up several bricks. He was 0-4 from the field and 2-5 from the free-throw line. Oly really doesn't have a true point guard. Bourne is the closest thing. He does other things well, but hit shot is off.
* - Box Elder guard Brant Mecham hit 0-12 shots, but at least he kept shooting. That's what a shooter does. Eventually those shots will fall. I know he was disappointed tonight, but he'll have great games, too. Coach Mecham wasn't worried.
* - Guard Nicholas Paulos didn't score. I kept waiting for him to make a difference in this game, but he never did. Coach Barnes said he has mononucleosis. Well, now I understand. I hope he gets better soon. He makes Oly a lot better team.
* - I got to the game early and spoke to a lot of Oly people, including coach Barnes, football coach Mike Smith, counselor (and amateur photographer) Julie Fairbourne and a few others. I like Olympus, and I also met some new people. It's also worth it to arrive early and get "in" to the game before tipoff.
Below is my game story, which I submitted to the Deseret News. There's also a detailed box score at the bottom. It appears I may also get to submit game stories to the website soon. I spoke to them today. That should be fun.

By Bruce Smith
For The Deseret News

Imagine the Olympus Titans as a light switch. For three and one-half quarters Friday night, it’s questionable whether or not it was working.
But for the last four minutes, there was no doubt.
Will Watkins scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three-point basket, as Olympus scored the game’s final 16 points and beat Box Elder 50-36 in a non-region game.
Obviously, the game was closer than the score indicated. Olympus led most of the way, but the Bees rallied behind the inspired play of guard Cody Eyre to take a 44-39 lead going into the final quarter.
“We played a good game. We limited them, and they’re a legitimate 70-point run-and-shoot team,” said Box Elder coach Keith Mecham.
That was true. Olympus was as a hot-shooting team last season, but this year’s team hasn’t looked so promising yet. Sharpshooter Nicholas Paulos has been hampered by an illness, and the team has yet to show the same marksmanship.
But the Titans scored the first four points of the fourth quarter and regained the momentum, forcing Mecham to quickly call a timeout. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.
“It is a gutty win,” said Olympus coach Matt Barnes, whose Titans improved to 3-0.
Barnes, of course, was more concerned with Oly’s third-quarter problem, an eight-minute time frame when Box Elder outscored the Titans 14-7. He noted that his team has had trouble immediately after halftime in each game this season, although that was only evident the last two games.
The Titans erased Box Elder’s lead quickly, forcing five fourth-quarter turnovers. Watkins, Connor Brady, Manny Riak, Joe Bourne and Spencer Harris scored to put the game away.
Box Elder didn’t score the last four minutes of the game. Eyre, who led the Bees with 13 points, hit some amazing shots early, but ended up 6-14 from the field because he always seemed to have a hand in his face in the fourth period.
The Bees’ leading scorer, Brant Mecham, also was handcuffed, but for the entire game. Mecham, the team’s leading scorer last year, whiffed on all 12 of his shots Friday. His only points came on 3-4 free throws.
“We did a nice job on him. He lit us up last year,” noted Barnes. “We really did turn up the defense in the last quarter.”
Keith Mecham noted that, too. He said once Watkins’ big trey gave Oly a 39-36 lead, his team also played differently.
“We were trying to put them away too early,” he said. “Once Watkins hit that shot, we kind of panicked.”
Box Elder was also forced to foul and Olympus, which hit just 13-22 charity shots for the game, hit most of them down the stretch.
Brady backed up Watkins with 15 points and Riak, who started in place of Paulos, had 10. Justus Brown and Chad Talbot had six points each for Box Elder. Talbot also had a game-high nine rebounds.

Box Elder 10 10 14 2 - 36
Olympus 13 9 7 21 - 50

BOX ELDER (36) – Munns 2-5 0-1 4, Eyre 6-14 0-1 13, Brown 3-7 0-0 6, Talbot 3-8, 0-0 6, Mecham 0-12 3-4 3, Barlow 1-2 2-3 4, Clawson 0-1 0-0 0, Mund 0-0 0-0 0, Jensen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-49 5-9 36.

OLYMPUS (50) – Riak 4-10 1-2 10, Bourne 0-4 2-5 2, Watkins 5-10 5-6 16, Brady 6-11 2-3 15, Sonntag 2-5 0-2 4, Pellatt 0-1 0-0 0, Paulos 0-2 0-0 0, Harris 0-3 3-4 3, Reynolds 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-47 13-22 50.

Total fouls: Box Elder 20, Olympus 13. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None. Three-point goals: Box Elder 1-15 (Eyre 1), Olympus 3-16 (Riak, Watkins, Brady). Rebounds: Box Elder 31 (Talbot 9), Olympus 35 (Bourne, Brady 7). Turnovers: Box Elder 17, Olympus 9. Blocked shots: Box Elder 4 (Brown, Talbot, Mecham, Clawson), Olympus 1 (Bourne).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Basketball season begins

The Utah high school basketball season has started and, on opening night, I decided to check out the Cottonwood at Taylorsville game.

Why that game? It was convenient. I will try to see each team in the area at least once this season, choosing the best games of the night. I also want to make sure I don't go to the same games the local media is covering.

There was a decent crowd at Taylorsville, and it was a good game. Afterward, I visited with both coaches and learned a lot more about their teams. I also used a new scoresheet, which helped me compile game stats.

Here is a game story I wrote, as well as statistics. I hope to cover 1-2 games a week from now on.

By Bruce Smith

TAYLORSVILLE – In the season opener for both teams, the Cottonwood Colts left the gym with a good feeling, while the Taylorsville Warriors wondered what might have been.
The Colts got 17 points from senior Raymond Chavez, and blitzed the Warriors with steady three-point shooting, to earn a 56-53 victory in a non-region game.
Afterward, however, Taylorsville coach Ron Burnside was upset that this one got away. He felt Taylorsville had a lot more it could have shown the home crowd.
“We had our big guy out and that hurt us,” said Burnside, referring to 6-foot-7 senior Yai Ajak, who reportedly had a death in his family. “We didn’t rebound. We needed to have that big guy.”
Ajak’s departure basically meant this was a battle between two evenly matched, perimeter-oriented teams, and Cottonwood came away with the win for two reasons.
* - The Colts were able to bury three-pointers. As a team, they connected on 9-16 shots from beyond the arc, led by Chavez and Parker Vassau, who had three apiece.
* - The Colts hit a big basket, and prevented Taylorsville from doing the same. Holding a three-point lead with two minutes left, Cottonwood held the ball for a minute before Chavez found Tim Glenn on a backdoor cut, and Glenn responded with a layup. Taylorsville had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but never got a good look on a three-point shot.
Cottonwood coach Dave McConnell was happy how his team responded in key times, especially near the end.
“We wanted to put them to sleep and make them think we were going to stall,” he said.
McConnell said Glenn, a senior who had four points and four rebounds, was his team’s player of the game.
“He did a lot of things tonight without the ball, so he gets the game ball,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without him.”
Besides the Colts’ late-game basket, there were two other times that Cottonwood responded well.
Trailing 12-7, Cottonwood opened the second quarter with eight straight points, including a pair of threes by Chavez, and never trailed again. Then, after a scoreboard snafu caused caused a brief delay in the third period, the Colts came out and put in a pair of treys.
Taylorsville was able to stay close, thanks primarily to the play of Andrew Togiai, who led the Warriors with 15 points, and the shooting of the Wright brothers – Wesley and Brady – who added 14 and 13.
“We competed well as a team,” said Burnside. “We have two slashers and two shooters, and that showed tonight. But I sure would like to see how we would do if we were at full strength.”

Cottonwood 7 17 23 9 - 56
Taylorsville 12 8 19 14 - 53

COTTONWOOD (56) – Chavez 4-7 6-8 17, Carter 0-2 1-2 1, Glenn 2-2 0-1 4, Kristensen 1-3 3-3 5, Dooley 1-4 0-0 2, Smith 3-6 2-4 10, Lundquist 2-4 0-1 5, Vassau 3-3 1-1 10, Malugin 1-2 0-2 2. Totals 17-35 13-22 56.
TAYLORSVILLE (53) – Togiai 5-9 3-3 15, Meters 1-3 2-2 4, W. Wright 6-10 0-0 14, McCloyn 2-7 3-4 7, Roper 0-1 0-0 0, Saelim 0-1 0-0 0, B. Wright 4-7 3-4 13. Totals 18-40 11-15 53.
Total fouls: Cottonwood 12, Taylorsville 17. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: McCloyn. Three-point goals: Cottonwood 9-16 (Chavez 3, Vassau 3, Smith 2, Glenn). Taylorsville 6-19 (Togiai 2, W. Wright 2, B. Wright 2). Rebounds: Cottonwood 22 (Glenn 4), Taylorsville 24 (Togiai 4). Turnovers: Cottonwood 17, Taylorsville 17.

About Me

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I am the author of Matchup, which provides yearbooks to high school sports teams, commemorating their seasons.