By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Kevin McInnis
Editor’s note – When it came time to select our TOSH boys team coach of the year, we combined the results of our fan poll online at PrepsUtah.com and our internal media survey. When all was said and done, we feel strongly that 19 years of work to reach a major milestone was too much to ignore. – The 2015-16 TOSH Boys Team Coach of the Year is Olympus basketball’s Matt Barnes.
With a history of second-place finishes at the state tournament, the Olympus High boys basketball team finally broke through this year as Titan alum Matt Barnes led his charges to a 24-3 record and the school’s first boys basketball state title. Olympus has been playing boys basketball for 63 years.
Barnes has been the head coach at his alma mater for 19 seasons and he has also coached the boys golf team for all but one of those years. A 1986 Olympus graduate, Barnes, who is 345-99 at the school, was the ideal leader to take the Titans to the much-awaited championship.
Six times previously, in 1960, 1977, 1978, 1994, 2001 and 2012, Olympus reached the state finale only to fall short in that ultimate game. This time was different.
The 2016 state championship game was a Barnes masterpiece, and he may have locked up our coach of the year award in the halftime locker room. After opening the game with a 16-7 advantage, the Titans were outscored 20-2 by Timpview and went to the break down 27-18. It did not look good.
With his team out of sync and in danger of being run out of the gym, Barnes challenged his team to “leave it all on the court” and told them it was going to be a grind, possession by possession, if the Titans wanted to get the big trophy. His team responded, scoring nearly every possession until it had cut the deficit to just two points, at 32-30.
Led by Issac Monson and Matt Lindsey, Olympus fought through a difficult offensive fourth quarter and found a way. Monson did a nice job on Timpview post AJ Bollinger, who had been too much to handle down low for other teams in the tournament, and Lindsey did a lot of the defensive work on T-Bird star Gavin Baxter, who hit just 3-of-14 shots.
Adam Larson, who took on the Baxter challenge for a huge stretch of the fourth period while Lindsey sat with four fouls, gets a huge assist in that regard. The Titans, to a man, spoke of wanting to win this one for Barnes. They responded when he called and got it done.