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High school girls basketball: Defense propels Skyline into 4A title game

Published: Friday, Feb. 28 2014 10:30 p.m. MST

Skyline's Hillary Weixler (34) fights for a loose ball in front of Mountain View's Ariana Kailiponi (33) during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Skyline's Hillary Weixler (34) fights for a loose ball in front of Mountain View's Ariana Kailiponi (33) during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

TAYLORSVILLE — Once again, defense does it for the Skyline girls basketball team.

Two days after using an impressive defensive effort to recover from a double-digit deficit, the Eagles turned to that same strategy to post an early lead and then stave off fellow Region 7 school Mountain View, winning 47-39 in the 4A semifinal round Friday at Salt Lake Community College.

"That was all defense," coach Lynette Schroeder said. "Holding a good team like Mountain View to two points in the first quarter is outstanding. ... I credit this win to our defense."

And Schroeder has a lot to be proud of.

The Eagles went on a quick 8-0 run at the start of the game and kept the Bruins off the scoreboard until just four seconds remained in the first quarter. After that shot, Skyline scored six more points before Mountain View scored again with just two minutes remaining in the opening half.

Skyline's Oliva Elliss (24) shoots over the defense of Mountain View's Nicole Smith (21) during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Skyline's Oliva Elliss (24) shoots over the defense of Mountain View's Nicole Smith (21) during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

The Bruins made just 3 of 22 shots in the first two quarters for a dismal 13.6 shooting percentage. They were 0 for 6 from beyond the 3-point line and 0 for 1 from the foul line. Meanwhile, Skyline shot 34.8 percent and established a comfortable cushion that it maintained for the rest of the game.

"I just told the girls they need to continue to put that pressure on defensively and offensively so that we weren't just starting to slack off," Schroeder said. "Even though we had a 10-point lead, we had to keep trading baskets. With their defense, if they came down and scored we had to go and score, and I thought my girls did that."

Most of those baskets came from 5-foot-11 junior Hillary Weixler, who led the Eagles with 12 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and two assists. She finished 5 of 12 from the floor, had one block, and just one personal foul.

Skyline's Zoe Moses (1) has the ball knocked out of her hands by Mountain View's Gentry Oldham (3) as Mountain View's Amanda Turnbull (12) is also defending during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Skyline's Zoe Moses (1) has the ball knocked out of her hands by Mountain View's Gentry Oldham (3) as Mountain View's Amanda Turnbull (12) is also defending during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

Sydnee Taylor and Mia Mortensen added seven points apiece, while Taylor accounted for five rebounds and five assists, and Mortensen added four boards and two assists.

In spite of playing just two days later, the Eagles were prepared for what the Bruins threw at them, and the Bruins were equally as prepared for Skyline, because the two are region foes and split their meetings earlier in the season.

"It was more of motivational preparing and less of X's and O's just because we've seen them twice already," Schroeder said. "It was more motivating the girls and inspiring them to want to get out there and work hard."

Knowing each other so well, however, did help with the on-court game plan as well.

Skylines' Sydnee Taylor (4) fights her way around the defense of Mountain View's Amanda Turnbull (12) during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Skylines' Sydnee Taylor (4) fights her way around the defense of Mountain View's Amanda Turnbull (12) during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

"Mountain View and Skyline play really similar," Schroeder said. "We both play an aggressive man-to-man defense, so that's what we see every day in practice and that's what they see. It was just, 'Who's going to step up and defend?' I thought my girls did a good job of that tonight."

Mountain View rebounded in the second half, shooting 41.4 percent for the final 16 minutes and improving to 29.4 for the game. The Bruins forced 24 Skyline turnovers and added 10 points from those miscues. Junior Paulani Tarawa led all scorers with 15 points and had five rebounds and three steals. Gentry Oldham had nine points and nine boards, while Stephanie Keele added three steals with her four points and four rebounds.

The Eagles shot 38.6 percent for the game and had 22 points in the paint. Skyline outrebounded the Bruins 40-31 and dished out 11 assists, six more than Mountain View.

Skyline's Shay Davis (2) has the ball tipped by Mountain View's Nicole Smith (21) during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Skyline's Shay Davis (2) has the ball tipped by Mountain View's Nicole Smith (21) during the 4A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

With the win, the Eagles advance to meet Springville in the championship game Saturday at 4 p.m. The two have not met this season, and Schroeder and her team are well-aware of the Red Devils' familiarity with the title match.

"All I know (about Springville) is they're championship material," the coach said of the team that has played for a title in each of the past five years and won three of them. "We just have to come ready and prepared. They're a great team and they're comfortable in this position. They'll have that to their advantage."

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.

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