Skyline has cruised through most of its Region 2 girls basketball games so far. Thursday night, the Eagles discovered the second round of their season probably won't be so easy.
West came in more educated on how to play Skyline and put up a much better fight. It wasn't enough to steal a victory, but the 53-29 outcome got Skyline's attention.
"They all know our tendencies and know how to play us better," said Skylines Abbie Brickley. "We have to switch things up."
Brickley, a 6-foot-1 senior center, scored 20 points and 6-3 forward Miquelle Askew added 15 more as the Eagles regrouped and outscored West 22-5 in the second quarter. West never threatened Skyline after that, but frequently frustrated the Eagles.
"We've been beating up a lot of our (region) opponents and, when we didn't do that tonight, the kids got frustrated," said Skyline coach Deb Bennett, whose team improved to 12-5 overall and 8-0 in region. "We're trying to get better. It's good they got us frustrated because it will make us better."
In seven previous region contests, Skyline beat opponents by an average score of 64-27. Only one team, Hunter, had forced the Eagles to work up a sweat.
The Eagles were sweating on this night, though, as West forced six first-quarter turnovers, trailed only 8-7 and seemed to be building momentum with every basket. That changed quickly, however, as Askew (13) and Brickley (11) combined for 24 points by halftime and helped the Eagles claim a 32-12 advantage.
In the second half, West changed its offensive and defensive plans. It slowed the game, which likely prevented any chance of a comeback, but the Panthers made enough plays to stay competitive.
Madison Powell scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half. She also combined with Maddy Murphey and Sia Skipps to force several turnovers on the perimeter. Even though the game was decided, there were five timeouts called in the last six minutes of the game as the coaches tried to find solutions to what the other team was doing.
"We had to try a lot of different things," said West coach Ronnie Stubbs, noting that West lost to the Eagles 53-16 last time. "We wanted to make sure we had a player on their bigs and force somebody else to beat us."
Brickley and Askew were nearly unstoppable inside, often passing to each other for baskets. Brickley made 7-of-10 shots and Askew was 4-8. They also combined to shoot 12-15 from the free throw line. Guard Julie Caputo provided some extra offense outside. She finished with 11 points, including three 3-point baskets.
Bruce Smith is owner of Matchup, a Utah-based company that provides high school sports teams with various publications. For information, see www.matchupUT.com.