During the preseason, the Skyline Eagles showed that they had the potential to hang with some of Class 5A's top teams. Actually beating them was another story.
But on Friday night, the Eagles put together their best effort of the season and stunned 5A's fourth-ranked Alta, 43-42, at Skyline High.
The Eagles shredded their home nets in the first half, and held off a furious late rally to defeat the Hawks in the Region 2 opener for both teams. Skyline had played great in the first half against tough teams such as West Jordan and Bingham, only to falter in the second half. This time, the Eagles weren't spectacular, but they did just enough to pull out the victory.
"We played a lot of good halves this year, but we really haven't played a full 32 minutes of solid basketball," said Eagles coach Derek Bunting. "It was big for us to be able to finish a game. We were shaky at the end, but we held on."
The Eagles recovered from a horrific offensive showing against Bingham on Tuesday in which they scored just 31 points and started fast against the Hawks. Ryan Osterloh scored nine points and drained two 3-pointers as Skyline built a 12-point lead in the first half. The Eagles had 28 points at halftime, nearly equaling what they scored in their entire game against the Miners.
While Osterloh and Kevin Wagstaff were their usual reliable selves from the outside, a big reason for the Eagles' improved overall play was the inside presence of Cameron Taylor. He scored 12 points in the contest, and kept the Hawks honest on defense.
"Our inside guys played huge today," Wagstaff said. "We really needed that. He (Taylor) was the difference."
Another Taylor actually made the game's biggest play.
The Hawks got the ball with the chance to win the game in the final minute. They burned their final timeout with 13.9 seconds left in the contest and set up what they hoped to be the game-winning shot. Everyone in the gym knew the ball was going to Alta's Taylor Brown, and it was up to Skyline's Casey Taylor to make things difficult for him.Brown eventually got the ball on the left wing, but was suffocated by Casey Taylor. With time running down, Brown had to throw up an off-balance 3-point attempt and missed. Jefferson Court got the rebound, and also missed what would have been the game-winner.