PROVO — Woods Cross’ 39-year boys basketball state-championship title drought will have to wait.
But the Wildcats were right there against No. 1 Olympus.
Leading 27-22 in the third quarter, the Wildcats gave up an 18-4 run the rest of the way, ultimately falling to the Titans 40-31 on Saturday night at BYU’s Marriott Center.
The No. 7-seeded Woods Cross team had defeated the Nos. 2 and 6 seeds in the quarterfinals and semifinals. The top seed, which has now won three state titles in six years, was too much.
Defensively, Woods Cross (18-9) played about as good as it could’ve hoped, holding Olympus center and Northern Arizona signee Jack Wistrcill to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.
“They came out and executed the game plan like we talked about. They did everything that was asked of them,” WXHS coach Josh Margetts said.
Conversely, the Titans held the Wildcats’ high-scoring duo of junior Mason Bendinger and junior Jaxon Smith to 16 combined points. Smith had 11 points before fouling out and Bendinger scored five on 2-of-11 shooting.
Alex Brey, who Margetts credited a lot for good help defense on Wistrcill, pulled in 11 rebounds.
Dutch Dowdell, an Olympus sophomore guard, scored 23 points (9 of 14 from the field, 4 of 6 from 3-point range) and had some of the important makes for the Titans during their game-taking run, including a deep, contested 3-pointer.
That the Wildcats even got to Saturday’s title game was an impressive accomplishment, given a first-year head coach and a team led by juniors, though said juniors are talented and figure to be some of the top players in the state next year.
Woods Cross led 21-16 at halftime after Olympus improbably shot 4 of 22 from the field with just two players making field goal attempts.
WXHS shot better than the Titans in the game (37.5% to 33.3%), but committed 13 turnovers against just four from Olympus, gave up a 14-2 edge in points off turnovers and shot 3 of 15 in the second half.
“Turning the ball over hurt us a lot, but as far as effort and executing the defensive game plan, I’m so proud of them, they did a hell of a job,” Margetts said.
The Wildcats either led or were tied the entire first half and third quarter, then a floater by Dowdell put the Titans up 29-27 at the 7:07 mark of the fourth quarter, and they led for good.
The Olympus run, starting when Woods Cross led 27-22, never ended. In a game as low-scoring as this one, the Titans’ run was decisive.