MILLCREEK — The Skyline Eagles girls basketball team is a work in progress.
And Wednesday night, in a 53-40 victory over Sky View, the team made a lot of progress in its quest to have a successful season.
"We played a whole game," said Eagles head coach Deb Bennett. "I thought we finished strong."
When the Bobcats' full-court press caused the Eagles some difficulty, the young players kept their heads and eventually figured out how to thwart the pressure.
"We've been pressed every game," said Bennett. "I thought it was a sign of maturity. The kids are coming along."
Bennett didn't give the inexperienced players much time to ease into the season. They have played ranked opponents, including top-ranked Syracuse.
"It's been tough," she said. "We threw the kids right into the fire, but they've responded well."
The team used its quick guards to move the ball around until they could work it into one of the forwards. While the Bobcats defended well, the Eagles managed to work the ball into the paint more effectively in the second half of the game. Junior Miquelle Askew led Skyline with 20 points and seven rebounds, while senior Abbie Brickley added 18 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Julie Caputo had five assists.
Bennett said the personality of the team is still emerging as the players gain experience on the court.
"We're athletic," she said. "We use a lot of different lineups, and we have players in different grades. It's not like they've been playing together for years."
As they learn to communicate with each other and understand just how talented each piece of the puzzle is, she believes they will have great success.
"I think they will be very competitive," Bennett said. "They're a team that's going to contend."
The lone senior, Brickley, understands her role as a leader but doesn't feel any added pressure.
"I love having the younger players talk to me and ask advice," she said. "It was weird at first. We had six seniors last year, and they led the team."
Like her coach, she sees their potential as limitless.
"I expect a state championship ring," she said grinning. "But we do have a long way to go."Comment on this story
Sky View is also young when it comes to varsity experience with just one returning play logging significant time last season. Sophomore forward Tara Goldman led Sky View with 18 points. She was also big on the boards, despite being several inches shorter than Brickley and Askew. "We're a lot better this week than we were last week," said Hansen, acknowledging that is the goal. Like Bennett, he scheduled a challenging preseason for his young team.
"It's been great, but it has been tough," he said. "We had the shots. We can't miss lay-ups and then have them make free throws like they did and win."
Skyline shot 12-for-14 from the free throw line.