SANDY While her teammates prepared for the game their biggest game of the season so far, Skyline guard Jenteal Jackson spent Tuesday afternoon in the Instacare as doctors tried to determine why she was having so much trouble breathing.
"I got a text this morning saying she was going to play," said Skyline coach Deb Bennett through tears after the Eagles held off a feisty Jordan squad to earn a 32-26 victory and probably a region title.
"It was a huge game for us," Bennett said of Wednesday's tie-breaker between Skyline and Jordan. "It was one of those games you have to play from possession to possession. They're a great team."
Bennett was overcome with emotion because of how the Eagles played despite dealing with illness and injuries to key players.
"I am so proud of these kids," said Bennett as she choked back emotion. "We've been hit with about all the adversity we can handle. ,.. They worked hard and focused on what we needed to do as a team. You don't ever know what you're made of until you have some adversity."
Bennett said she knew as soon as Jackson got sick on Monday that the team's tough stretch, which included losing Sarah Spangler to a sprained ankle and several other players to the flu, had gotten a lot worse.
"We had to bring half the J.V. players up so we'd have enough kids to practice," she said. "I was just trying to get the young players up to speed."
Bennett said the team had to practice different scenarios depending on whether Jackson was able to play or not. After the game, she had praise for every player who stepped on the court.
"Jenteal's ability to come out and just gut it out," Bennett said. "Dani (Peterson) just took the team on her shoulders and led them tonight, and Katie (Walker), she just hit some huge shots. Everyone just did such a great job."
Jackson said despite missing both practices this week, she never considered not playing against Jordan Wednesday.
"I have never missed a game while I've been at Skyline and I wasn't about to miss this game," she said. "It was one of the most important games for us. ... We needed this win."
Jackson knows the team has two more region games to play, but feels confident this gives the squad confidence and momentum.
"I was looking forward to this game before I was sick," she said with a smile. "Yesterday was pretty bad. ... I felt pretty good today. Breathing was difficult, and it was hard to talk. I told my teammates before the game they had to talk it up and help me out because I couldn't be too loud."
Walker, a sophomore guard, and senior center Peterson were key in the win with Walker scoring 10 points and Peterson adding eight. Peterson and Puia Fui also had to contend with the Beetdiggers' tough post players, Kaylie Robison and Bev Smith.
Jordan was led offensively by Izzy Gustafson, who finished with nine points, all 3-pointers, while Smith added six points and Robison finished with five.
Walker said she thought Jackson would play, but she was preparing herself mentally for whatever happened.
"We were just excited to play Jordan," Walker said. "It's awesome. Everybody gave a little bit of effort and stepped it up."
Jackson echoed Walker's sentiments."They came out fighting," Jackson said. "With all the illness and injuries, it was a great team effort, especially defensively."