That is the beauty about our team. If one player isn’t performing we can throw someone else out there and make it work. —Skyline head coach Lynette Schroeder
DRAPER — The Skyline Eagles, sporting the No. 1 ranking in the state, per the Deseret News, illustrated why they are considered one of the best teams in Utah Thursday when they defeated the Riverton Silverwolves 52-32 in the Corner Canyon Winter Classic.
The victory was the fourth 20-plus point victory for Skyline (6-0) this season, yet another reason for their lofty standing.
But the final score fails to convey the type of contest it was.
For much of the evening, the Silverwolves and Eagles were neck and neck. Riverton (4-2) actually led 11-9 after the first quarter, buoyed by the play of Kaitlin Burgess (Burgess scored five points in the quarter and finished the game with a team-high 10 points).
Aiding the Riverton cause, meanwhile, was the ineffectiveness of Skyline stalwarts Grange and Cameron Mooney.
Grange, who came into the game boasting a team-high scoring average of 15.8 points per game, was beset with foul trouble for much of the evening, while Mooney struggled to have a significant impact on the offensive end, a rarity considering her regular 10 ppg.
In their place, the Eagles were forced to turn to Eskelson and Jessop, among others.
The duo came up big for Skyline, with Jessop scoring six of her 10 points in the first quarter.
The two guards chipped in four points in the second quarter as part of an impressive Skyline run that saw the designated home team score 11 unanswered points.
“I thought they did great,” said Skyline head coach Lynette Schroeder. “That is the beauty about our team. If one player isn’t performing, we can throw someone else out there and make it work.”
Defense in particular played a significant role in the Eagles' second-quarter blitz, and on that end Mooney’s impact was more than noticeable. The center deflected more than a few Riverton passes, igniting breakaway after breakaway.
“It was just our mentality,” said Schroeder. “If we get stops on the defensive end, then our offense is going to come. That is what I always tell my players, and they bought in.”
Skyline outscored Riverton 13-4 in the second frame and entered the break sporting a 22-15 advantage.
The Silverwolves made their share of adjustments at halftime, however, and owned the third period.
With Grange sitting, having drawn a foul in the early seconds of the quarter, Riverton silenced the Eagle attack, turning Skyline miscues into easy buckets.
Burgess again came up big for the designated visiting team, scoring five points in the quarter, and she wasn't alone. Megan Headrick scored four points in the third, while Sydnee Jackson chipped in three.
If not for the play of Kate Vorwaller, who scored four of Skyline’s seven third-quarter points, Riverton would have retaken the lead heading into the final period.
“We needed to be better, play better,” said Schroeder. “We needed to share the ball, to play better defense, to not be complacent about where we were.”
That message, delivered to the Eagles at halftime, found purchase in their play in the fourth quarter.
Grange returned to the game with a vengeance, scoring six points in a stretch where Skyline outscored Riverton 16-2. Eskelson chipped in six additional points during the run, making her one of six Eagles to find the bottom of the net in the fourth quarter.
All told, Skyline outscored Riverton 23-6 in the fourth, pulling away for the convincing victory.
Up next for both teams is another Winter Classic contest Friday evening, with Skyline battling the Copper Hills Grizzlies and Riverton facing off against the Corner Canyon Chargers.