SPRINGVILLE — Any win in region play is big, particularly when the win comes on the road. For Skyridge coach Jeff Gardner, however, his team's 51-43 win over defending 4A state boys basketball champion Springville on Friday was admittedly more meaningful than most.
"We have so much respect for Springville (and its) coach (Justin) Snell, who has proven that he's one of the great coaches in the state," Gardner said. "We knew that we were going to have to catch some breaks to come in here and win, and it was a really significant win for our program."
Getting the win wasn't easy by any means.
Both teams came out a bit sluggish on the offensive end, leading to a slim 14-12 lead by the Red Devils at the break, before the home team gained some separation in the third quarter. An early 8-0 run culminated into a 31-23 lead for Springville entering the fourth quarter, with the visiting Falcons still searching for some good offensive rhythm.
That rhythm came early in the fourth, with a quick 7-0 lead trimming the Red Devils' lead to just 31-30 with about five minutes remaining. A few minutes later saw the Falcons regain the lead at 38-36 off a 3-point play by freshman Duncan Reid, who then followed that up with a 3-point bucket to extend the lead by five with just under four minutes remaining. For Reid it was his first points of the game, and couldn't have come at a much better time.
"He's a really tough kid and he's as competitive as they come," Gardner said of Reid. "It's his first region game and I was just really impressed with his confidence and him sticking with it."
The majority of Skyridge's points would come from the foul line for the remainder, as the Red Devils were forced into a fouling situation soon after Reid's six straight points. An 8-10 effort from the charity stripe to finish out worked to keep Springville at bay and to give the Falcons a big win.
As mentioned, things didn't run all that smooth on the offensive end for both teams, with Springville's tenacious defense leading to the Falcons not scoring a single point until just after the four-minute mark of the first quarter. The good news, however, was the Falcons largely matching Springville's defensive intensity throughout the first half of play.
"I was proud of how our kids came out. They battled their butts off and played hard," Gardner said. "The score was low, and that was our talk at halftime — that we can't panic because the score is low. We have to keep playing and get good shots, and sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't."
Leading the scoring for Skyridge was sophomore forward Trevon Snoddy and his 17 points. Ethan Ilunga added 11 and Reid nine. Springville was paced by Ben Schreiner and his team-high 16 points and Mark Gallagher, who added 12.
With the win Skyridge improves to 8-5 on the season and 1-0 in Region 8 play. Springville drops to 8-6 on the year, and 0-1 in Region 8 play with the loss.