Olympus seizes control of Region 6 with victory over BrightonFeb 10, 2021 08:36PM ● By Travis Barton
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
It was intense. It was heated. It had a half-court buzzer-beater. It had just about everything, including an impressive victory for the Olympus Titans.
Holding a one-game lead over region rival Brighton and a de facto region championship on the line, the Titans strong second quarter proved enough to down the Bengals 80-68 on Tuesday to take a virtual three-game lead with three games to go.
“Brighton's dang good, you know they're going to come at you and they did, it was a great basketball game,” Olympus head coach Matt Barnes said.
After a tight first quarter, the Titans broke it open with a 19-6 second quarter that saw them almost scoring at will at times and stifling the Bengal offense on the other end. It culminated in a half-court buzzer-beater by Ben Krystkowiak that saw the Titans take an 18 point lead into the half.
Brighton chipped away at the Titan lead in the second half, pulling to within five after an incredible four-point play by senior guard Tanner Church with 1:15 left. But some missed Bengal shots and Olympus being able to break the Brighton press saw the Titans close the game out.
“I was just so proud of my guys that we came ready to go and just executed and got great shots, got what we wanted,” Barnes said. “I'm just disappointed at the end that we let them get as close as they did cause we had it under control, but we haven’t been in that situation so hopefully a good experience for us.”
Before the slightly nervous final minutes, Olympus had runs in the second and third quarters where it looked like it couldn’t be stopped. Whether it was the outside shooting—five Titans finished with at least two three-pointers—or the presence of Titans’ leading scorer Jack Wistrcill inside, who finished with 20 points, five rebounds and seven assists.
“Obviously Jack's the focal point so they were going to take Jack away and not let him get it,” Barnes said. “We just had to be patient and execute and take the good shots, make the extra pass. When we were patient, we had it rolling.”
“When that team gets going offensively,” said Brighton head coach Garrett Wilson, “I don’t know that anyone’s beating them and they did that to us tonight.”
Both coaches described the game as two great teams going toe-to-toe. For Wilson, the separation between the teams came down to the defensive game plan not panning out the way he wanted.
“They're a really good team, I think we're a really good team too and they were just a little bit better than us again tonight,” Wilson said. “They made some shots and got some key stops, and ultimately were able to impose their will with what they were trying to do offensively.”
“This is a game of runs and we know that,” Wilson added. “But credit my kids that they didn’t quit fighting, they showed emotion that they cared and at the end of the day, I want that as a coach.”
The game was not without its intensity with a smaller-than-normal but loud Titan student section. It also saw several moments where tempers flared between the region rivals with trash talking, a technical, and frustration almost boiling over after the final buzzer.
Both coaches said these games always live up to that intensity.
“You knew it was going to be a war and a battle,” Barnes said. “Neighboring schools, football's been a big rivalry recently so I think it's just going to kind of continue. It was a heated game, but an intense game. Proud of my kids for the way we handled things. Anytime you win, cherish winning because it's hard to do.”
“The team that wins is never going to just walk away from the night not emotionally drained,” Wilson said.
Wilson also took a more macro view of the game as well.
“That game’s everything you want out of high school basketball, just the raw emotion,” he said. Kids might get too emotional or make mistakes, but it’s part of high school sports, he added.
“That’s what this whole deal with COVID’s really kind of shown, how important it really is for these kids to get this experience,” Wilson said.
Brighton will have to win its three remaining games and hope Olympus loses its remaining three to have a chance at the region championship.
Wilson feels good about his team and said the areas to improve are all within its control.
“We just got to get all the cogs going at the same time and I think if that happens, we have a shot at making a good run,” he said.
Though Barnes’s team have yet to lose to another 5A opponent this season, he won’t take anything for granted. Not with two road games left.
“Sports are funny, you got to keep playing,” he said. “Got to finish.”