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Skyline boys score upset win in state tournament, reach quarterfinals

Apr 09, 2018 11:30AM ● Published by Josh McFadden

The Skyline Eagles made their presence known at the Class 5A state boys basketball tournament. In an underdog role, the Eagles advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Timpview 67-63 in the first round at state on Feb. 26.

Skyline finished 5-5 in Region 5, tying East for third place; however, tie-breakers gave the Eagles the No. 4 seed. This meant Skyline had to face the Region 7 champion Timpview to open up the tournament.

Skyline wasn’t intimidated. 

Things didn’t look good for the Eagles early on. Timpview jumped out to a 20-10 lead as the second quarter began. But the Eagles turned things around in the second, outscoring the Thunderbirds 27-10 to go in front 37-30 at halftime. Timpview cut the margin to 46-45 at the end of the third quarter. The Eagles had just enough in the tank to hang on for the surprising victory. 

Head coach Kenneth James was happy with his team’s performance, especially the way it contained the Timpview offense.

“Our win over Timpview was huge for us,” he said. “We showed belief in ourselves; we showed effort and heart. We played tremendously hard on the defensive end, and we attacked the basket and got the ball inside. We read the defense and made good decisions. It was a great feeling to show the state that we are a good team and could beat anyone on a given day.”

Heading into the game, James knew his team would face a big challenge from Timpview. The team’s game plan was to pound the ball inside the paint and not back down from the Thunderbirds’ top player, Hunter Erickson.

“We knew that Timpview was a good team, and we needed to be physical with them and go inside with the ball. We knew Hunter Erickson was one of the best players in the state; we needed to stop his pullup three-point shot and deny him the ball whenever possible. Taylor Larsen, Anish Singh and Briggs Binford did a great job of limiting his touches and being physical with him. Our overall team defense was outstanding, as guys helped on him whenever we needed to. We wanted to attack their zone and trap by going inside and attacking the rim, which we did. Andrew Clark and Hollan Schweitz had big performances and owned the paint. We also controlled the backboards and really rebounded well.”

Skyline held Timpview to 23 of 55 from the field. Schweitz led the Eagles with 23 points and six rebounds, while Clark had 19 points and paced the team in rebounds with 10. 

The Eagles fell to Bountiful in quarterfinals 80-62 two days later. Skyline led 21-13 at the end of the first quarter, but the Braves outscored the Eagles 67-41 the rest of the way. 

James said his team accomplished some important objectives during the 11-14 season, despite some adversity, including injuries, suspensions and one player quitting late in the season.

“Our goal all year was to win a playoff game, so we accomplished that,” he said. “I will always remember how my team stayed together, how my senior leaders circled the wagons and kept us together. (Clark) and (Larsen) kept the boys together, and we advanced at state. The seniors gave everything they had; I’m so proud of them.”

James stepped down as coach at the end of the season. He said his replacement has some good pieces to work with next season. 

“We have three returning players with a ton of experience; they need to get bigger, faster and stronger, and also increase their skill,” he said. “If they do that, there is no reason they won’t be successful moving forward.” 

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