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The City Journals

Defending champion Skyline girls basketball loses in state semifinals

Apr 09, 2018 11:37AM ● By Josh McFadden

Kiana Eskelsen lays it up against Murray this season. The Eagles bowed out in the semifinals. (Photo/Kimberlee Jessop)

The Skyline girls basketball team was a little shy of defending its state championship. The Eagles reached the Class 5A state semifinals but lost to Timpview 56-49 on Feb. 23.

Skyline fell behind early to the Region 7 co-champions from Timpview. The Eagles trailed 13-9 after the first quarter and 25-17 at halftime. The Eagles picked up their offense in the second half where they scored 32 points. However, Timpview also turned up the scoring and didn’t let Skyline get into control. 

The Eagles got balanced scoring, as Madison Grange had 13 points, and Kiana Eskelson and Kate Vorwaller had 12 points and 11 points, respectively. Cameron Mooney chipped in seven points and six rebounds for the Eagles. 

“We came out strong, and then it was back and forth from there,” said head coach Lynette Schroeder. “Timpview had some great runs, and so did we. Whenever we seemed to get within a point or two, Timpview found a way to score and extend it to within two possessions. We couldn’t seem to get over that hump. Obviously, (the girls) were upset and disappointed that we weren’t playing in the championship game. I reminded them of the success we had this season and that as long as they tried their very best and had no regrets, they could walk out of the locker room with their heads up.”

Despite the semifinal defeat, it was hardly an unsuccessful season for the Eagles. Skyline went 9-1 in Region 6, sharing the title with East. It was Skyline’s fourth straight region championship. The Eagles went 19-7 overall and put together some nice streaks during the season. The team opened the campaign with six straight wins and later put together a string of nine consecutive victories from Jan. 5 to Feb. 6. Eight of those wins were in region play. 

“I feel that it was a good season, and we accomplished most of our goals we set as a team,” Schroeder said. 

To get to the semifinals, Skyline first got past Alta with a 59-38 victory in the first round on Feb. 19. Quarters one, three and four were competitive, but the second quarter was all Skyline, as it outscored the Hawks 24-8. The strong second quarter was more than enough to power the Eagles to the quarterfinals. Grange had an impressive all-around performance. The senior had 23 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Mooney added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Barrett Jessop helped out with nine points, four rebounds and three assists. She also tied Grange with a game-high three three-pointers.

Two days later, Skyline won comfortably over Springville in a convincing defense performance. The Eagles were victorious, 48-33 over the surprising Red Devils from Region 8. Though Skyline didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, it did enough on the offensive end, especially considering it limited the Red Devils to just 16 field goals and no converted free throws. Through three quarters, Springville had just 23 points. Mooney was the game’s leading scorer, as she netted 21 points. It was her third 20-point outing of the season and her first since Jan. 3. Grange added 14 points for the Eagles. 

Mooney will graduate after a stellar career at Skyline. She averaged 11.3 points per game this season, good enough for second on the team. She scored 10.3 points an outing as a junior. Grange, the team’s leading scorer this season at 15.3 points a contest, also departs, leaving Schroeder with some holes to fill. 

“We lose a lot of size down low with Cameron Mooney graduating, so that will be an adjustment,” Schroeder said. “We need to continue to improve on our fundamentals and to gain more experience at the varsity level for some of my returning class.”

Eskelson was the team’s third-leading scorer at 8.2 points a game. She’ll be back for her senior season in 2018–19. Schroeder will count on sophomores Amit Lustgarten and Vorwaller to increase their roles on the team.