The Skyline Eagles certainly aren’t getting things done the easy way in the 4A girls state basketball tournament, but senior Kyla Paulus is definitely doing her part to bail them out.
Monday’s opener saw Skyline get taken to overtime before it beat Judge Memorial, aided by four free throws from Paulus in the extra session.
Thursday morning at Salt Lake Community College, the Eagles nearly gave away a double-digit lead late before Paulus sank two from the charity stripe with 23 seconds left to help them escape with a 47-43 victory over Timpview in the quarterfinals.
Another ho-hum game?
“It was a little more stressful than that,” said Skyline head coach Lynette Schroeder.
Even so, Paulus said Monday’s ordeal helped her team do what was necessary to get the win Thursday.
“Last time we had to come back from where we were down, and this time we had our lead, so it really helped us to keep our composure and just play together and pull it out,” she said.
Trailing by 41-30 with 4:24 left, the Thunderbirds began to get to the line and then pressure the Eagles in a way Schroeder said they hadn’t seen recently.
Soon Skyline’s lead was just six, 43-37. A Lyndie Haddock layup brought Timpview within two, 43-41, with just 1:28 left on the clock.
“I just told them to keep their composure, that they’ve been in this situation before and they know what they need to do and to just go out there and do it,” Schroeder said.
Eagles guard Shaylana Davis responded with a takeaway, Skyline was able to drain some clock and then Paulus went to the line.
“I was just thinking, ‘Just stay calm. It’s just like any other shot,’ ” Paulus said. “I got a little bit of it last game, and I just said ‘Do the same thing.’ ”
The same thing worked, and the Eagles took a 45-41 lead. After the Thunderbirds couldn’t convert, Davis made two more free throws to stretch the lead to six and Skyline survived.
The dramatic finish caused the third quarter to essentially be a footnote, but the frame was key for the Eagles’ cause.
Ahead 17-15 at halftime after a physical nerve-riddled opening two quarters, Skyline used a combination of good defense in transition and solid execution in the halfcourt to open up an 11-point lead.
“I think their nerves just calmed down and they kind of just started playing,” Schroeder said. “The state tournament’s always exciting.”
The Eagles were led in the scoring column by Olivia Elliss, who finished with 15 points. Haddock also had 15 for Timpview.
With the win, the Eagles move to the semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of Thursday’s Bountiful-Maple Mountain contest on Friday at 4:10 p.m.
Ryan McDonald is a part-time reporter at the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @ryanwmcdonald.