TAYLORSVILLE — Although true that Salem Hills boasts one of the most feared post players in the state — 6-foot-3 Lyssa Hanks — it would be a shame to forget her talented supporting cast. Four players scored in double-digits as the Skyhawks showcased their depth and earned the dominating 71-28 win over East High.
Despite the landslide victory, East held the 9-2 advantage early on.
Unfortunately it wouldn't last long and Salem Hills would run away with the game shortly after. The Skyhawks enjoyed a 35-2 run over the next several minutes.
Hanks came alive in the second, demonstrating her renowned offensive prowess with nine points. Hailey Ingram proved a potent scoring threat as well, sinking a 3-pointer and laying it in twice while teammate Brooke Ford contributed eight in the quarter.
With the surge, Salem Hills held a 41-14 advantage at halftime.
"The whole run (East's early lead) was based on our defense," Salem Hills head coach Mike Conner said. "We didn't start out too great, but I thought we played really, really well in the second quarter."
Conner's praise was an understatement. The Skyhawks scored most of their points in a quick transition offense, running the Leopards to the ground with their crisp passes and unmatched speed.
Those who weren't scoring were racking up assists and steals. Missy Belliston provided a spark for the Skyhawks with her athleticism and tenacity. "We call her the energizer bunny," Conner said. "When she comes in, something good happens."
Belliston posted four points in the third and Ingram found the basket on three separate occasions — one from beyond the 3-point arc. East struggled to overcome the stifling defense as they were forced to compete without leading scorer Madison Roemer.
Conner said the Skyhawks' advantage can be attributed to their hard work on the defensive end of the court. "That's our style, that's how we play. We play defense. We try to score our points in transition."
Ingram led all scorers with 21 points while Hanks finished with 13. Ford and Belliston had 11 apiece.
Salem Hills advance to the second round where they'll face a familiar opponent in Mountain Crest. Mountain Crest ousted the Skyhawks in the playoffs last year and the year prior.
"We have got to beat Mountain Crest before we feel like we've proven anything," Conner said of the matchup.