Sacrificing One for All: Skyline High School Boys BasketballJan 28, 2016 03:40PM ● By Bryan Scott
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
CottonWood-Holladay - For the 16 players on Skyline High School varsity boys basketball team, the fun is just beginning. With their official season beginning Nov. 12, the group has already put in more than 100 hours of court time. However, with a five-and-four record coming out of preseason, the Eagles are gearing up for the 13-game regular season that began with a home game against Cyprus High School on Jan. 12.
“We’ve got a great group of kids this year,” said Kenny James, head coach for Skyline.
Nine seniors, five juniors and two sophomores give this varsity group decent depth. And with a 6”1’, 174 lb. team average, James considers this year’s players “big and strong in size.” Many of this year’s returning seniors have played together for at least three seasons, giving them a camaraderie that translates well on the court.
“We’ve all been friends for a really long time,” Austin Stevenson, senior captain and starting point guard for the Eagles, said. “We trust each other and hold each other accountable.”
James is counting on the long-standing friendship and sportsmanship of his players to benefit the team when playing against challenging components like Murray, Olympus and Kearns.
“I’m hoping our tight knitness and our good defense will carry us in the region battles,” James said.
James, a Skyline alumni, started out as an assistant coach with the Eagles in the 1990s before taking the head coaching position in 2015.
“He’s awesome as head coach,” Stevenson said. “He’s really good at building relationships with his players.”
Last year the Eagles lost the last three games of their regular season, preventing them from a run at the state championships.
“The guys kind of have a chip on their shoulder from last year,” James said. “They want to prove themselves. They have a little bit of an edge to them and want to show people they are good.”
With over two decades of Skyline coaching under his belt, James is taking a fresh, new approach this season.
“I sold them on the concept of being unselfish. If they were unselfish and didn’t care about personal play time, we could be successful,” James said. “And they’ve really bought into that.”
Playing with an unselfish, group mentality has been the key to the Eagles early success on the court. Though both James and his players agree they need to work on increasing defensive intensity, their positivity and team chemistry is at an all-time high.
“I think positivity is one of our greatest strengths as a team,” Stevenson said. “We’re always supporting each other, giving high-fives and telling each other ‘good job.’ This also helps us communicate really well on the court.”
Though making it to the first round of the 4A state championships on Feb. 29 is the team’s ultimate goal, they are tackling the season one game at a time.
“This has been the best year yet,” Marko Miholjcic, senior captain and starting guard for the Eagles, said. “We’ve been winning a lot, and I think that’s because we really work hard ever single day and we are more committed to competing than ever.”
So far, the group is off to a strong start. They are up an average of almost three points per game, and with six wins already secured this season the Eagles have nearly succeeded last year’s seven total wins.
“We are a pretty experienced group,” Zach Boudreux, captain and starting forward for the Eagles, said. “We’re willing to sacrifice personal playtime for what’s best for the team… and we really like to win.”
The Eagles play their last home game against rival Olympus High School on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.