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You could see it in both teams. There is a lot of room for improvement, but I was happy with our intensity. We never let up. —Skyline coach Lynette Schroeder

By Bruce Smith

For the Deseret News

MILLCREEK — Skyline and American Fork finished the 2016-17 girls basketball season on the ultimate high — a state championship — and were anxious to get back on the court Tuesday night for the Utah High School Activities Association's Hall of Fame game.

It didn't feel the same as when both teams took home a fancy trophy to their schools last February. Both were rusty and had to adjust to playing without last year's leaders. Skyline, however, seemed to have a head start. The Eagles took advantage of their added experience and roared to a 51-30 win in the season opener for both schools.

"It was a game of nerves … really," said Skyline coach Lynette Schroeder. "You could see it in both teams. I was happy with our intensity. We never let up." Cameron Mooney scored 14 points, Madison Grange had 13 and junior Kiana Eskelson showed a lot of potential with a 12-point effort as Skyline jumped to a 14-0 lead and was never threatened.

"It was a game of nerves, really," said Skyline coach Lynette Schroeder. "You could see it in both teams. There is a lot of room for improvement, but I was happy with our intensity. We never let up."

Mooney, a 6-foot-2 senior center, gave American Fork matchup problems throughout. Besides her offensive output, she pulled down 13 rebounds. Grange showed a nice perimeter jumper and Eskelson's athleticism helped Skyline both offensively and defensively before she fouled out.

American Fork couldn't answer. Even when the Cavemen started a second-half run that narrowed the gap to 38-25, the rally ended when Skyline got the ball to the right players and rebuilt the margin.

"We're young — we know it," said American Fork coach Brock White, who took over for longtime Cavemen leader Corey Clayton after American Fork celebrated its 5A championship eight months ago.

"This was a great game for us. I'd love to play Skyline every year because you know they're going to be among the top teams in the state. This game can only help us."

American Fork had just two seniors on its roster — and six freshmen — and White played almost everybody to try to prepare the team for its upcoming difficult region season. Juniors Addison Holmstead and Sydney Bushman showed a lot of potential, but the Cavemen had too many turnovers and shot just 3 of 23 from three-point range.

Bruce Smith grew up in Boise, Idaho, and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high-school sports articles for the Deseret News.