OGDEN — As the top seed in the 4A state boys basketball tournament and defending state champs to boot, the Sky View Bobcats knew they’d face some fierce opposition in the state tournament.
That opposition didn’t come in the second round, when the Bobcats rolled over Logan, but it came early and often Thursday at Weber State’s Dee Events Center. The No. 8-seeded Hurricane Tigers gave the Bobcats anything and everything they could handle and then some.
The Tigers forced Sky View star Mason Falslev into an off game — Falslev finished with just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting. Hurricane led four different times, by as many a five points in the first half, too. Guards Daxton Dayley and Bryce Thomas combined to score 18 and 10 points, respectively, as Hurricane did everything it could to pull off the upset victory. It was all to no avail, though, as the defending champs were up to the challenge.
Led by Jackson Schumann, Taydem Neal and Titan Saxton, Sky View defeated Hurricane 60-55. Schumann scored a team-high 11 points off the bench, while Neal and Saxton added 10 apiece.
“This time of year everyone is playing well and there are only eight teams left,” Sky View coach Kirk Hillyard said. “They are all going to be like this. We are going to have to grind games out and I think we showed a lot of grit today.”
With Falslev limited, the Bobcats needed help from wherever they could get it and Schumann proved up to the task. The center was hurt most of the season and has only been back in the lineup for the last four or five games, but he played his most minutes in a game this season, tallied his season-high in points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“He has been hurt, but he is getting back,” Hillyard said. “He did a really good job for us today. He can shoot the ball really well and finished around the basket. He is really good about passing the ball and did a good job of that today.”
Fellow big man Evan Hall, who finished with six points, two rebounds and a block, was another who stepped up for the Bobcats, after senior Sam Phipps left the game with an injury.
“We were concerned for Sam, but guys were ready to step up and Evan was one of them,” Hillyard said. “He brings a ton of emotion. Some guys do that and some don’t, but you can’t manufacture that. You either have that or you don’t. Evan is as much a cheerleader as a big dude who can run the floor and finish. Those were big minutes for us.”
For those worried about Phipps, don’t be. The electric forward will be back.
“He will be ready to go tomorrow, but he is not 100% and we all know that,” said Hillyard.
The game came down to the final moments, but multiple defensive stops by Sky View, powered largely by Falslev, proved the difference.
“Our kids were able to get a couple of stops down the stretch there when their two studs, Thomas and Dayley, were trying to take over and bowl their way to the basket,” said Hillyard. “We showed some grit and got a few stops. Mason played pretty tough defense and forced them into some bad shots.”
With the win, Sky View advances to the semifinals where the Bobcats will face the No. 12-seeded Desert Hills Thunder, who upset No. 4 Cedar in quarterfinal action. The Bobcats and Thunder will face off Friday at 5:50 p.m.