Box score

Man or zone, man or zone? Sky View’s coaching staff went back and forth on which defense to play in their preparations for Saturday’s 4A state championship.

A zone likely represented the best chance to slow down Dixie big man Kyle Lemke, but it also freed up Dixie’s shooters for more looks on the perimeter. The trade-off was allowing Lemke to possibly go off like he did in the semifinals.

“That’s the hard thing to try and decide what you’re going to do,” said Sky View coach Kirk Hillyard, whose team ultimately settled on a zone defense.

It proved to be a wise choice. The Bobcats limited Lemke’s effectiveness in the post and then shot the lights out offensively in a thrilling 52-44 victory over Dixie at the Smith Spectrum at Utah State to claim the state title.

“How sweet is it to be in your backyard here in Logan with a stadium full of Cache Valley fans, fun to take in. Fun environment, fun atmosphere, something that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” said Hillyard, whose team brought home its first state title since 2019 with the win.

Sky View’s defense was great the entire game, but particularly in the fourth quarter as it held Dixie to just two points on 1 of 11 shooting.

It was the only blemish on a great game for Dixie, which shot 55% prior to that point, including 8 of 16 from 3-point range, while only turning the ball over seven times.

Sky View, meanwhile, shot the ball well all four quarters (55%) and executed its offense extremely well also with just five turnovers.

“I can’t point out any one person. They all came in and did some really good things at times, just proud of their effort. What great way to end. Only one team gets to end on a win each year in each classification and we’re lucky enough to do that this year,” said Hillyard.

Carter Davis led the way for Sky View with 14 points, while Deseret News tournament MVP Logan Deal finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.

“It was amazing. Not everybody gets to play a state tournament in your hometown. We had a bunch of students here and they supported us the whole weekend and it just felt amazing,” said Deal.

Sky View led 28-23 at the half and threatened to seize momentum on multiple occasions in the third quarter on big 3-pointers from Hayden Howell and Tanner Davis, but nearly every time Dixie answered.

The Flyers made five of their eight 3-pointers in the third quarter, including a pair from Kenneth Robinson and Layker Ward in the final minute as they closed the third on a 6-0 run to take a 42-41 lead into the fourth.

Despite all the 3-pointers, Sky View’s coaches never wavered in sticking with the zone defense.

Deal put Sky View ahead 43-42 early in the fourth, and then Howell buried a huge angle-left 3-pointer at the 4:30 mark to stretch the lead to 46-42.

Dixie responded with a jumper by John Southwick at the 3:30 mark, but that was the last time it scored. Kendrick Terrell hit a big jumper to push the lead back to two possessions at the other end and then Sky View just kept getting stops.

“We really had to clamp down. We’ve been focusing on defense all year. For us to hold them to two points in the fourth quarter, that’s just outstanding,” said Carter Davis.

The punctuation mark came from Deal on a breakaway dunk in the final minute amid a fever pitch from the pro-Sky View crowd.

Hillyard said Deal’s work ethic all season was a massive part of Sky View’s success.

“They really didn’t care who scored the ball. They just wanted to win and that started with Logan Deal. He’s the ultimate team player. He was kind of infectious as far as spreading that attitude on the team,” said Hillyard. “They all have to buy into that and they bought into that this year and because they bought into that the result is a win on Saturday in late February.”

Deseret News 4A All-Tournament Team

MVP — Logan Deal, Sky View

Kyle Lemke, Dixie

Breckon Robinson, Dixie

Carter Davis, Sky View

Hayden Howell, Sky View

Tyrese Lacey, Layton Christian