The last couple plays, I’d just been going right and it’s come to me, so I just thought I’d do the same thing. Just went with what I do, what I’ve practiced my whole life, just went for that shot because I know my team would want me to take it. —Skyline's Sydnee Taylor
TAYLORSVILLE — Sydnee Taylor drove the right side of the lane, stepped back, and drained a baseline jumper.
There were just 17 seconds left when the ball slipped through the net, and it gave the Skyline girls basketball team its first lead since the opening basket.
Skyline's ensuing defensive stand — which included a deflection out of bounds and then a three-player collapse on the ball — secured the Eagles’ 51-50 victory over Timpview and capped a furious 14-point comeback in the 4A tournament Wednesday evening at Salt Lake Community College.
“The last couple plays, I’d just been going right and it’s come to me, so I just thought I’d do the same thing,” Taylor said. “Just went with what I do, what I’ve practiced my whole life, just went for that shot because I know my team would want me to take it.”
Taylor made the first basket of the contest, but it was all Timpview from that point until late in the second half. Junior forwards Lyndie Haddock and Lacy Haddock dominated inside, forcing second and third opportunities with powerful rebounding, while senior guard Lauryn De La Cruz dictated the pace of play and attacked the basket relentlessly. De La Cruz scored six points by the end of the first quarter and had 14 of her total 17 by the halftime break.
The Thunderbirds held an 11-point lead, 30-19, by the midpoint and then extended it to 14 points on a Haylee Harrison 3-pointer with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter.
But a Skyline defensive adjustment and Lyndie’s Haddock’s fourth foul began to turn things around for the Eagles. When Taylor, who found herself alone on the wing, hit a 3-pointer with 50.1 seconds left in the quarter, hit another at the buzzer, and then followed them up with an invigorating fist pump right in front of her bench, the entire direction of the game changed.
“She doesn’t show much emotion but when she does, she gets her team going,” coach Lynette Schroeder said.
Taylor added: “It definitely gave us some momentum. We were down, but we’d been down in games like that and we always believe we can come back — so that’s what we did.”
The Eagles’ energy added to their intensity on defense, which led to steals, fast break points, and confidence on the offensive end of the court. Skyline scored six straight points early in the quarter and then took advantage of missed Timpview free throws to continue cutting into the lead.
“It was solely our defense that really kept us in that game,” Schroeder said. “Everyone just picked it up on the defensive end. No. 11 (Lacy Haddock) and No. 5 (Lyndie Haddock), they can just rebound the heck out of the ball and our main focus was stopping them, boxing them out, making sure they didn’t even try and get their hands on that basketball. I think from our defense, our offense just started flowing.”
Skyline senior Mia Mortensen drove to the basket for a layup with two minutes remaining, pulling the Eagles to within three points, 48-45. Lyndie Haddock countered with two free throws, and then Taylor accounted for the final six points of the contest.
Mortensen made a huge play when De La Cruz received the ball on the other end of the floor, and the game was over.
“We switched players on her (De La Cruz), which got a bigger body on her,” Taylor said. “And on that last play, Mia just stepped up — did what she does, because she’s our best defender. We stuck her on who we knew was going to shoot it.”
De La Cruz shot 8 for 16 from the floor and had three rebounds, four assists and five steals for Timpview. Lyndie Haddock had 13 points and four steals, Lacy Haddock had nine points and one steal, and each grabbed eight boards.
Skyline junior Olivia Ellissa scored 10 points and had three steals, while Hillary Weixler recorded a game-high 10 rebounds, and Mortensen had four points and eight boards.
Taylor led all scorers with 25 points, along with three steals, three assists and five rebounds.
“She’s a leader on the court, off the court,” Schroeder said of Taylor. “Not only in her skill, but the girls just respect her so much, and it really shows in our team unity.”
With the win, Skyline advances to the semifinal round, where it will play Region 7 foe Mountain View on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Eagles and Bruins split their meetings earlier in the season.
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.