SMITHFIELD — Sometimes praise can be a bad thing.
When just about every newspaper in the state predicted Sky View's girls basketball team would be one of the state's best this season, it gave the Bobcats confidence.
And in one or two particular cases, it gave them a little bit too much confidence. In the team's first meeting with Woods Cross, a little bit too much confidence led to a Wildcat win.
"I think we were reading the press clippings, and we're supposed to be good, it caught up to us," said head coach Kimber Hall after Sky View avenged that earlier loss beating Woods Cross 47-31 behind an impressive defensive performance Friday. "It really did."
Even before the loss to Woods Cross and a subsequent loss to Mountain View, Hall said they discussed how to deal with high expectations and external praise.
"You earn it," he said. "Everyone is talking about it, 'hey, Sky View is good.' But it doesn't matter what the paper says, you have to prove it every time you play. And we played poorly against Woods Cross (the first time)."
What Friday's win proved is that the players are willing — and able — to fix what's broken.
"We learned from our mistakes," said senior forward Aimee Green, who had the daunting task being one of three players to guard 6-foot-3 Woods Cross center Emily Howey. "We had small things we needed to fix, and we're working on them."
Added guard Dannika Webb, "A few of our losses highlighted our weaknesses."
So the girls went to work, and Hall said the plan against Woods Cross in the second non-region meeting (the school's play twice more in Region 6 play) sounded simple but was actually a tall order — stop Howey, slow guard Natalie Parsons.
"When we played them before, Howey had her way," said Hall. "We did not defend her well at all. We wanted to make sure we knew where Howey was all the time, and we wanted a body on her all the time. We had to have a body on her."
He gave the assignment to a group of forwards, who not only out-rebounded the Wildcats, but got Howey in foul trouble, which meant she was out most of the critical second quarter.
"We knew we had to outrebound them, and that meant helping on the weakside and blocking out," said Green.
The Bobcat defense held Woods Cross to two points in the second quarter and they held Parsons to just seven points, all of which came late in the third quarter and the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
"I thought Aimee Green, Kylie Pharis and Lindsey Koford did a great job on her," Hall said. "Howey is a really good player."
And while the forwards worked to contain Howey, the guards managed to slow Parsons. Howey led the Wildcats with 14 points.
Webb sealed the win in the fourth quarter with back-to-back jump shots and then a miss that allowed Kendra Falslev to grab the rebound and make the shot. Her slashing to the basket caused Woods Cross to foul, although the Bobcats struggled hitting just 11 of 21 free throws.
And now the Bobcats know exactly why they can't let the praise go to their heads.
"We just didn't show up last time," said Webb. "We know we have to pick up our intensity and get better every night."
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