For much of regulation Wednesday night, the Skyline Eagles were looking for a spark in their first-round 5A state tournament game.
Going up against Lehi, and coach Quincy Lewis, who won five state titles at Lone Peak High and earned another last season in his first year with the Pioneers, the outcome looked bleak when the Eagles’ leading three-point shooter, Kolton Smith, fouled out in the final minutes.
But Peter Broadbent hit a 20-footer to force overtime, and Yorgio Golesis and Kai Tulsian then nailed jumpers from long range, as Skyline earned a 60-54 victory in a first-round game at Skyline’s gym.
The win improved the Eagles’ record to 12-9 and, combined with top-seeded Olympus’s victory over East, means the two neighborhood rivals will meet for a third time this season on Friday.
It also ended a stretch of four losses in five games for coach Cory Plant’s crew, who were able to celebrate the win on their home court. The school’s 60 year-old gym is scheduled to be torn down later this year and replaced with a new facility.
“I doubt the (Skyline) kids even realize it yet,” Plant said. “It was a great way to go out, and we want to keep it going.
“We moved the ball, and hit the shots when we needed to hit them. We didn’t want to go to overtime, but the guys didn’t quit.”
The game between the No. 16 and No. 17 seeds was close throughout until Golesis took command of the offense in the second half and Skyline built the margin to as many as eight points, thanks to his combination of driving layups, and the team’s confident passing that led to open shots – some even from well beyond the three-point stripe.
Skyline made 7-of-12 three-pointers in the second half. Smith made his only attempt, but a key point of the game came when committed a silly fifth foul trying to guard Lehi sophomore Cooper Lewis, and that seemed to temporarily deflate his teammates.
Lewis, who had 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, calmly made the ensuing free throws. The Pioneers then stole the ball on consecutive possessions, and seemed to be in control when Spencer Anderson made two charity shots, and Lewis followed with a layup while being fouled.
Skyline rose from the dead, however, on Broadbent’s final 3-pointer just a few feet from the Skyline bench that tied the game 52-52 with 57 seconds left. Lehi then held on to the ball, but when Lewis’s 3-pointer fell short at the buzzer, the Eagles had another chance.
Plant said the difference was the Eagles’ second-half defense near the basket, which limited the presence of Lehi’s 6-foot-9 center, Nixon Ruffner, and forced the Pioneers to be more of a perimeter team. In the second half, Lehi was 0 for 7 from long range and couldn’t connect in overtime when they especially needed the points.