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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Danny Vranes, who played at Skyline from 1974-77, at the University of Utah, on the US Olympic Team and in the NBA waves to the crowd at a ceremony retiring his number Friday.

Skyline basketball players had to show some patience before they were able to put away a scrappy Hunter team in a 57-41 nonregion victory on Friday night.

But their patience paled in comparison to what Danny Vranes has displayed in the last three decades.

The school finally retired Vranes' No. 23 in a halftime ceremony during Friday's game. Vranes, who led the Eagles to state basketball championships in 1976 and 1977, is easily the best player in Skyline history, and among the top high school basketball players in state history.

Vranes, who graduated from Skyline in 1977, was a McDonald's high school All-American, an All-American as a Utah Ute, an Olympic gold medalist and the fifth overall pick in the 1981 NBA draft. He played eight seasons in the NBA for the Seattle SuperSonics and Philadelphia 76ers.

Few players in state history can match those credentials, and no one at Skyline was really sure why it took so long to retire Vranes' number. He was, however, already a member of the school's Hall of Fame.

"Better late than never," Vranes said. "But, hey, I'll take it. It's quite an honor."

Derek Bunting, in his third season as Skyline's coach, was as confused as anyone why Vranes' number had yet to be retired by the school. He worked quickly to rectify the situation.

"This is something that's long overdue," Bunting said. "He's one of the best basketball players in state history. For people to come into our gym and not know that Danny Vranes played here, something needed to be done."

Vranes was joined by other members of the 1976 and 1977 state-title teams during Friday's halftime ceremony. Bunting spoke highly of Vranes, as did Jeff Judkins, who is Vranes' cousin, a former star player at Utah and the current BYU women's basketball coach.

"They wanted to retire somebody's jersey and they didn't have any better ideas, I guess," Vranes said.

Skyline point guard Kevin Wagstaff, who was key in helping his team improve to 10-0 on the season with Friday's victory, said the Eagles were a little bit nervous while playing in front of the former school greats. In fact, the Eagles looked in danger of being upset by the 5-5 Wolverines for the first three quarters of the game.

Wagstaff, however, wouldn't let Skyline's night be spoiled. With the Eagles leading just 38-35 to start the fourth, he sparked a 12-0 run to help put the game away. He hit a jumper to put Skyline ahead by five, and then sank a 3-pointer to stretch his team's lead to eight just one minute into the final period.

That forced Hunter to loosen up on defense, and Wagstaff was able to break the Wolverines down by driving to the basket and finding open teammates. He finished with 10 points.

"That isn't the first time he's put the team on his shoulders," Bunting said. "Whether it's scoring or penetrating or finding the open guy, he's a kid that rises to the occasion almost on a nightly basis."

Also rising to the occasion on Skyline's big night was Ryan Osterloh, who scored 20 points and made two 3-pointers. Jeff Poole led Hunter with a game-high 23 points.


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