MURRAY — In the race for second place in Region 2 Friday night, the Skyline Eagles got off to a fast start made it stand in a 49-39 win over the Murray Spartans.
The Eagles connected on their first nine shots, raced to a 22-3 lead and never let Murray in the game.
The win moved Skyline into sole possession of second place. The Eagles are 10-9 overall and 7-3 in region, while Murray dropped to 9-9 and 6-3. By beating Murray twice, Skyline also own the tiebreaker with just two regular-season games remaining.
And the Eagles did it without any surprises.
"They did exactly what we thought they were going to do," said Murray coach Jason Workman. "We knew it was coming, and they still out-executed us.
That's a smart team. They played a really intelligent game tonight."
And it started right away. After 6-foot-7 center David Collette used his obvious height advantage to give Murray a 2-0 lead, the Eagles dominated. Chase Dunford nailed a three-pointer to give put the Eagles ahead, and Skyline wouldn't miss a shot until late in the first quarter.
Brian Orr keyed the run with several driving layups or short jumpers, and was the biggest reason Skyline connected its first nine shots. On defense, the Eagles didn't allow Murray an offensive rebound the entire first half. Collette, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, didn't collect his first carom until the third quarter.
"We got good looks, and then we would go down to the other end of the floor and they were one-and done," explained Skyline coach Bernie Graziano. "Brian Orr's penetration was big."
It was the perfect start for the Eagles. While they couldn't maintain that effort, they held the ball on offense and worked for good shots. They also seemed to contest every Murray attempt. The Spartans made just 12-of-35 shots, and were 0-8 from the three-point line.
The Spartans did manage to rally in the fourth quarter behind Collette and Wyatt Woodard, who had 10 points. The Spartans narrowed the margin to 41-35 with 2:56 left on a Woodard basket, but Skyline sophomore Jaden Jackson negated the pressure by hitting four straight free throws to halt the rally.
Jackson finished with a game-high 18 points. His biggest basket came late in the second quarter, when he connected on an NBA three-pointer as the buzzer sounded, and was immediately mobbed by his teammates as they ran into the locker room.
That helped the Eagles to a 34-22 advantage, and allowed them to keep the momentum. The second half had much more defense, and Skyline maintained control of the ball for long possessions.
"The kids didn't lose their composure," said Graziano. "Our guys can play together."
The Eagles' Jake Osterloh had an impressive game. The 6-2 Osterloh was given the difficult task of guarding Collette, and finished with six points and 10 rebounds.