4A boys basketball: Eagles eke out ugly win over Bobcats
WEST VALLEY CITY — Skyline coach Derek Bunting hesitantly glanced at the postgame stat sheet after Monday's 4A first-round matchup with Sky View.
"I don't even want to look at these shooting percentages," he quipped.
The Eagles finished 13-for-40 from the field, scored three points in the entire second quarter and looked out-of-sync in every way imaginable offensively. Yet, somehow, they managed to reach into the jar of resiliency, scoring the final seven points to eke out an ugly 38-31 decision.
"Huge to get out of the first round. I think next time we come in here we'll be more adapted to the environment," Bunting said. "The nerves, hopefully, will be gone and we'll be able to play more comfortably. The first round is the hardest game for any team."
Bunting attributed the 32 percent shooting to the venue.
"I don't know if there's such thing as a good looking game at the Maverik Center — it's a tough place to shoot," he said. "There's not going to be much beauty in any game played out here."
Sky View suffered the same woes, bricking 29.4 percent, including 4-of-18 in the first half. It's two leading scorers, Jalen Moore and Casey Oliverson, scored a combined 16 points under their season averages.
Ironically, the Eagles (16-6) broke from the opening tip scorching hot. On the first three possessions, Patrick Nielson chipped in a basket, while Desean Miller and Scott Anderson connected on consecutive 3-pointers to claim the 8-2 lead with 5:30 on the clock.
"I just came in thinkin' I could make them. It felt good and they went in and I got goin'," said Anderson, who finished with 10 points, four boards and three steals.
Then, as if a frosty breeze engulfed the court, neither team could buy a bucket. Not even an uncontested layup. The rim was plastic-wrapped.
The two teams combined for two fields goals and seven points in the second quarter, which saw 15 possessions account for zero points.
It wouldn't be until the midway point in the fourth that the shooting rhythm reappeared.
With the score nodded at 23 apiece, Sky View captured its second lead of the game when Hayden Downs, normally a reserve, sank a 3-point shot from the corner for the 26-23 advantage.
Skyline quickly traveled down the length of the floor with Miller pacing the flow. The slashing guard, quicker than goosebumps, penetrated the Bobcats' zone and found Garrett England hibernating at the wing to even things out once more.
Downs, however, had another up his sleeve. In almost a mirror image of the previous bucket, he dropped another bomb in the same portion of the court to extend the score 29-26 with five minutes remaining.
"No. 35. He wasn't on the scouting report. I don't know where they got him from, but he hit two 3," Bunting joked. "We weren't expecting him to shoot the ball and he knocked them down — credit to him."
Shortly thereafter, with the score resting at 29-28, England delivered another 3-pointer to maintain the chaotic scoring. In total, the score flip-flopped four times in the final period.
"I got confident," England said after finishing with a game-high 13 points. "I was hitting 3s at the beginning of the season, kind of had a rough patch, (but) I felt like it was the beginning of the season again."
With 1:41 emblazoned on the scoreboard and the Eagles clawing to 33-31 lead, Sky View's rattled two free throws off the front rim.
Skyline quickly switched to its four-corners offense.
"It was one of those things that it felt right at the time," Bunting said.
Was it ever.
Anderson twined two straight free throws. Miller and Isaac Esplin added three more freebies to seal the deal.
"For those guys to step up at a critical juncture," Bunting expressed, "those are big-time plays."
For Anderson, it was as if he was in his backyard.
I really wasn't thinking about it at that point," he said. "We shoot them everyday in practice, so I just stepped up not thinking about anything else but back of the rim nothing but net."
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