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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Skyline vs Roy girls high school basketball played in Taylorsville, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012.

TAYLORSVILLE — It is not Miquelle Askew's nature to be the center of attention.

But, like it or not, when the 6-foot-3 senior steps onto the basketball court, she becomes the focal point, both for her teammates and opponents.

"At the first of the season it was hard because I felt like I was being selfish," said the Skyline center, who led the Eagles to a 57-45 victory in the first round of the 4A state girls basketball tournament at Salt Lake Community College on Monday.

Askew's feelings about being the focal point of the Eagle offense changed when she realized her ability to play "like a beast" was really an act of service to her teammates.

"I was really helping my teammates out," said Askew, whose 35 points and 13 rebounds proved she's now right at home in the spotlight. "If that's what is working for us, then I'll go along with it."

And then she blushes a little.

The Eagles jumped out to a quick lead with Askew scoring 12 points in the first quarter. In fact, while her teammates got involved in the subsequent quarters, at times it looked like there wasn't any way to stop Askew in the paint.

She said her coach challenged her before the tournament.

"She's been awesome," Askew said of Eagles head coach Deb Bennett. "She said, 'You need to be more of a beast.'"

So she's just trying to follow her coach's directives.

Bennett was beaming with how her team not only played Monday, but with how they rallied after losing in the first round last year.

"It meant a lot to us," said Bennett, choking with emotion. "Last year was hard. There were a lot of challenges the team had to overcome to get here."

There was dissension, rumors, bad blood, finger pointing and eventually two players left the program for other schools.

"There was dissension and a lot of things said that were not true," said Bennett. In fact, at the end of the season, they went out and bought T-shirts that proclaimed them a "team" to try and change the energy for this season.

Senior forward Ta'a Tuinei maybe had the greatest challenge as she came back after having a baby in mid-October. She looked like just another piece of a well-oiled machine on Monday as she scored seven points, grabbed eight rebounds and earned four assists.

"I'm so proud of them," said Bennett. "This means a lot to us, and this has been a really fun week. Anything that's come along, they've dealt with it, and they always come to practice ready to work."

Skyline struggled a little with Roy's effort in the third quarter, but point guard Ashley Aberton did a good job controlling the offense and sparking the defense.

"Ashley did an excellent job as point guard today," said Bennett. And while she acknowledge the massive impact Askew has on a game, she praised her other players for making sure teams can't just collapse on the future Boise State player.

The Royals were led by Jordynn Barrera, who scored 16 points, Bryce Mitchell, who added 11, and Kailyn Hurley, who finished with 10 points.

Aberton said she and Askew have been playing together since eighth grade so they have a good feel for where the other is on the floor.

"Today we really wanted to get it into her because we had a height advantage," Aberton said. "This feels really good. And hopefully it gives us good momentum."

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com