HOLLADAY — Syd Taylor said that when she was younger, she chose basketball as her primary sport because of what it required of her.
"I like the competition," said Taylor, whose 19 points led the Skyline Eagles to a 61-31 victory over archrival Olympus on Friday night. "I like working hard."
That affection for hard work might be rare in some teens, but Skyline head coach Lynette Schroeder said she considers herself lucky to have a roster full of girls who embrace the effort it takes to succeed.
"They're very hardworking," she said. "And they like to have fun, so we've talked about working hard and then having fun. I told them, 'If you work hard, you're more likely to win. And winning is fun.'"
The Eagles had an easier time manhandling their region rivals Friday night because Olympus leading scorer Rachel Vandertoolen is out indefinitely with a knee injury. It wasn't just Vandertoolen's 12 points per game the Titans were missing — it was her leadership and rebounding ability.
Sophomore guard Kyra Johnson led the Titans with eight points.
The Eagles knew Olympus would be without Vandertoolen, but it didn't change the way they prepared.
"Not at all," said Schroeder. "No matter who we play, we set the tempo; we play Skyline basketball."
Earlier in the season, the team would play better against tougher competition and worse against struggling teams.
"We didn't always know which team would show up," said Schroeder.
The team has grown more consistent, which is part of the reason the Eagles are now 5-0 in region play.
Schroeder said that was their first goal.
"Now we'll look at the next five games and just go step by step," she said. "It think this game is what I was looking for. ... This was a breakthrough game."Comment on this story
Taylor said one of the benefits of earning a double-digit lead was seeing some of her teammates get in the varsity game. She said she'd prefer to be the winner in a lopsided contest to edging a team in a nail-biter.
"I like to be that far ahead," she said smiling.
Schroeder said the team's strong bond is something that's inherent in this year's players.
"I take no credit for the team chemistry," she said. "They do a lot together off the court, and that translates into on the court chemistry. They are very team-oriented. Of course everyone wishes they could be out there all the time, but they're just as happy for their friends when they're out there doing well."