When we start strong, we finish the game amazing. … And I think we just trust each other to make those shots. —Sky View's Kaylee Carlsen
TAYLORSVILLE — The Sky View Bobcats may have been a bit intimidated by the move from 4A to 5A, but after back-to-back blowout wins in the postseason, it’s clear they’re comfortable in their new situation.
“Oh, heck yeah, it’s intimidating,” said Bobcat head coach Vanessa Hall after the third-ranked team defeated defending 5A champion Brighton 78-42 in Thursday’s 5A quarterfinals. “We did well in 4A. We were comfortable there. And then they said, ‘Hey, let’s bump you up.’ And everyone is a little bit taller here, and everyone is a little bit faster here, and everyone is a little bit longer, and more athletic, so yeah, it’s intimidating. But these girls just work hard day in and day out.”
And that work has turned their season into something almost as special as last year’s undefeated championship run.
The Bobcats opened the season with a 53-50 win over Brighton, but the game Thursday was never close. At the end of the first quarter, Sky View owned a 25-4 lead. The teams played evenly in the second quarter, but the Bobcats owned the momentum and the edge in the second half as well.
Sky View was led by Jamie Nielson, who scored 21 points, including three 3-pointers, and Kaylee Carlsen, who finished with 20 points and four threes, as well as nine rebounds. Abigail Harper came off the bench to score nine points.
Both players and coach said the team wanted to prove they belong in the state’s largest classification.
“This is where the lights are the brightest,” Hall said. “Every team comes here and they want to do their best.”
She said opening the season against Brighton proved to them that they can play at this level, and in every practice and game since, they’ve just worked hard to get better at every aspect of the game.
“As we’ve gone through the season, we’ve just got more comfortable with that and gotten more confidence,” Hall said, adding that even the team’s two losses, both to 3A teams, helped them on the road to this tournament. “I think we’ve learned from it and we’ve improved.”
Carlsen said she and her teammates see this as a chance to show they belong. Their strong starts are something they’ve come to rely on this season.
“When we start strong,” she said, “we finish the game amazing. And I think we just trust each other to make those shots.”