On a night when shots weren’t falling much for either team, Sky View found its shooting touch when it mattered most in the 4A semifinals against Desert Hills at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield on Tuesday.
Hannah Radford, Macy Hellstern and Addey Merrill each took turns burying a 3-pointer over a three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, each one either tying the game or giving Sky View the lead, and those big buckets proved to be the difference in the 44-41 grind of a victory for the Bobcats.
“Shooting is always contagious. There’s a lot of things about momentum in basketball, and it’s easy to shoot when you have momentum on your side. We’ve always had girls who can flat-out shoot and it’s fun,” said Sky View coach Vanessa Hall. “Do they always shoot on the same night, sometimes not, but that’s what we’re capable of.”
With the win, Sky View advances to Wednesday’s championship game against region rival Logan. The teams split the season series, each winning on its home floor.
Against Logan’s Amber Kartchner, who scored a new career high in the other 4A semifinal, defense will be the key for Sky View just as it was in the semis.
Desert Hills was the second-highest scoring team in 4A this season and a big reason why is their athletic backcourt.
“I feel like defensively I thought we played tough. Desert Hills, what they’re capable of, we watched film we watched them yesterday, the drives the dishes, so I thought defensively we play them tough and I thought that was really big,” said Hall, whose team last won a state title in 2015.
Sky View won despite getting outscored at the foul line 16-0, and a key to overcoming that disadvantage was streaking outside shooting.
Hellstern and Merrill made three each, with Hellstern leading the Bobcats with 13 points. Hall was very pleased with the way her point guard dealt with Desert Hills’ press.
“Desert Hills put a ton of pressure on her tonight, and I thought she handled that well and to step up and make some of those big shots when all that pressure is on you is huge. She’s been a great leader for us all year, and we have a lot of girls step up and be leaders,” said Hall.
Sky View led 11-4 after the first quarter and 22-16 at the half, but Desert Hills used a big third quarter to tie the game heading into the fourth.
The Thunder went ahead 34-31 early in the fourth, but Merrill tied it at 34-34 with a 3-pointer at the 6:04 mark. Less than a minute later with Desert Hills leading again, Hellstern drained her third trey of the game for the 37-36 lead.
The biggest shot of the game came at the 2:50 mark as Radford’s 3-pointer gave Sky View the 42-41 lead. Desert Hills didn’t score the rest of the game.