Lehi head boys basketball coach Quincy Lewis said Olympus threw some figurative "haymakers" in Friday night's 5A semifinals game at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville — but his Pioneers just kept getting back up and staying in front.
That was the key to victory as Lehi answered every Titan challenged and earned the 69-58 win, securing a spot in Saturday's 5A state championship.
"I think that was one of our better offensive games of the year — and it had to be," Lewis said. "Those guys were excellent and they shot well too. That's a good team. It got tough tonight but we hung in there. We've come a long way and now we've got one more step."
Pioneer senior forward Peter Amakasu said he felt like Lehi was able to stay composed, even when the pressure was on.
"Communication and intensity was big," Amakasu said. "We tried to get together and talk through it. We just tried to push through."
Amakusu hit a number of big shots at key times as he finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
"He's capable of making hard plays," Lewis said. "We'd like to think that we have all these plays we run as coaches to get us wide-open shots but that just is not the truth all the time. Sometimes it is just a kid being in his space making a play."
Lehi came roaring out of the gate and led 15-4 before a lot of fans had even settled into their seats. The Pioneers didn't expect a quick push to be enough to put Olympus away.
"We had to have our defensive game plan," Amakasu said. "We just stuck to it and played it all game. We were able to keep the momentum up the whole game."
A Titan push in the second quarter made the Lehi lead just 22-20, while a 3-pointer to start the third quarter trimmed the Pioneer advantage to 36-35. Olympus made one final push and got to within four early in the final period but each time Lehi came back strong.
The Pioneers were paced by 22 points from senior guard Noa Gonsalves, while he also added eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Olympus had three players — Alex Johnson, Dutch Dowdell and Ben Krystkowiak — who tallied 13 points apiece to lead the Titan scoring effort.
With the victory, Lehi moves on to face Farmington in the 5A championship. Lewis coached in a number of title games during his days at Lone Peak, so he knows what it is like.
"It doesn't get old," Lewis said. "Truthfully, Sean Yeager was the guy who developed all these guys. I'm just taking over what he gave me. We're just trying to take that last step."
The Pioneers hammered Farmington by 20 points when they met in a December tournament but Lewis doesn't put much stock in that.
"They are a totally different team and we are a totally different team," Lewis said. "They have a super-talented guard but they have much more than that. You can't let their shooters get loose. That is a well-balanced team."
Amakasu said it feels amazing to be heading to the title game.
"I'm excited," he said. "This is my first time, so we'll go see how it goes. We have to play good defense."
The Pioneers are slated to square off against the Phoenix at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville on Saturday, with the tipoff at 5 p.m.