TAYLORSVILLE — Except for 30 seconds of their 5A quarterfinal game on Wednesday afternoon, Skyline and Taylorsville were locked in a dogfight.
But those 30 seconds — which capped the third quarter — were the difference in Skyline's 39-29 victory over the Warriors. The Eagles advance to play unbeaten state favorite Syracuse in the semifinals on Friday.
The Eagles led the Warriors 29-27 late in the third quarter when they took control. Whitney Jenkins converted a three-point play, and after Taylorsville failed to score on the other end, Skyline guard Katie Walker hit a runner as time expired in the third quarter. Quickly stretching their lead to seven gave the Eagles some life, and took the air out of the Warriors.
"That just got me so excited," Walker said. "I just really got pumped. The whole team jumped up. That got all of my adrenaline going."
It did the same for the rest of the Eagles, who put the contest away with their spread game and trademark defense in the fourth quarter. Skyline held Taylorsville to two points and no baskets in the final period, and ran the large chunks of time off the clock by spreading it out on offense.
"Huge," Skyline coach Deb Bennett said of the final 30 seconds of the third quarter. "Huge because it allowed us to do what we wanted to control the game."
It was Skyline's 15th straight victory, and another game it won with defense. The Eagles have held 12 of their opponents to 30 or fewer points during their winning streak. They allowed Weber to score just 18 points in their first-round win on Tuesday.
"Our defense was huge," Walker said. "They had four really good 3-point shooters and we did really good defending all of them. Our posts were even guarding out on the 3, too. They're not the most comfortable out there, but they stepped up and that's what they needed to do."
Skyline held the Warriors to 1-for-13 shooting from 3-point range. Taylorsville only shot 21 percent in the game. Saane Lo'amanu was the only Warrior to score in double figures, as she had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
The Eagles were led by Walker, who scored 11 points with two 3-pointers, and had four rebounds, two steals and an assist.
"Katie Walker is our quarterback," Bennett said. "She was huge. She hit some big 3s."
The Eagles also got lifts from two players battling injuries. Hannah Bezdjian, who's missed two weeks with a back injury, had 10 points and eight boards for Skyline. Jenkins, hobbled with a leg injury, had eight points, three rebounds and two assists in addition to perhaps the game-changing play when she put Skyline up, 32-27.
"I thought it was a great team effort," Bennett said. "I'm excited for the kids."
Skyline is excited for its rematch with Syracuse in a final four matchup on Friday. The two teams played in early December and were tied at halftime. The Titans blew the game open in the third quarter of a 61-43 victory, and the Eagles are hoping to show they're a much-improved team.
"We owe them one from last time," Walker said. "We are excited. We are ready to go. We're not going out without a fight."
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