Never had words of encouragement sounded so hollow. As Thursday’s first half came to an end, an anonymous Bonneville coach sung his team’s praises. “Great second quarter,” he called, his voice ringing throughout a gym of stunned fans.
Skyline had just canned three straight 3-pointers, taking a 17-point lead into halftime.
By all accounts, the opposite of a great second quarter had just unfolded.
“I think our girls buckled a little bit,” Bonneville coach Andy Trane said.
That Bonneville came thundering back, whittling that 17-point deficit as small as three midway through the fourth frame, speaks volumes about the resilience of the youngest Bees team in years.
Skyline didn’t let Bonneville come all the way back, capturing a 63-57 win, but the hosts came away from the loss feeling encouraged, hopeful, optimistic.
Drew Chapman totaled 20 points and Mattie Olson added 18 for Skyline, which iced the win with timely free throws in the final stages. The Grizzlies (10-6, 4-1) went dry from distance late, but they secured enough stops to finish off the victory.
As the postseason draws closer, that’s all they can ask for.
“We’ve got to learn how to win those tight ones,” Skyline coach Ty Keck said. “It’s good to see us hold that run off at the end there, and make the plays when we really needed them to come out with that win.”
The best way to explain how Skyline nearly blew an enormous lead involves detailing each team’s offense — or lack thereof.
In the first half, Chapman tallied 19 points on five triples, helping the Grizzlies end the first half on a 12-0 run — all via 3-pointers. The visitors were hot, blisteringly so. After her fifth long ball, Chapman flashed a wide smile to her bench as she backpedaled on defense.
Skyline had just made 6 of 13 treys in the first 16 minutes. Plus, its frenetic pace forced Bonneville (6-11, 2-4) into 11 turnovers, almost all of which led to Skyline buckets.
“That’s actually what we try to do,” Keck said. “We try to play a fast game, and it did hurt us a little bit tonight. We’ve got to go back to work on how to balance that — when we go fast and when we take our advantages in the half court.”
Yet in a town where few cinemas remain open, the ending of Thursday’s game amounted to the best theater around.
Bonneville won the third quarter, 16-9, and came roaring back even closer in the fourth. Halfway through, when Kaylie Kofe glided into the lane and finished a contested layup, the Bees drew within three, at 52-49.
Then, Skyline pushed its lead back to seven thanks to two free throws from Olson, but still — Bonneville had a chance.
Talia Trane stuck back a miss and Sydnee Shurtliff made 1 of 2 free throws, trimming Skyline’s lead to 58-54 with 90 seconds to play. As the clock ticked closer to one minute, Mia Sorensen went to the line and connected on another 1 of 2, good for her 13th and final point of the night.
Skyline led, 58-55, with under a minute to play.
“We just calmed down and settled in,” Trane said. “In games like this, there’s a lot of energy and pressure … I’m proud of how we played to fight back into this one.”
Unfortunately for the hosts, that’s as close as they came.
Lizzie Bialas knocked down a pair of free throws, good for a five-point lead with 38 seconds to play, and Bonneville couldn’t respond on the other end. That left too little time for the Bees to complete the comeback that seemed so improbable just 45 minutes earlier. Bialas later made 4 of her next 5 foul shots, sealing the win.
Still, consider the numbers. In the second half, Chapman registered just one point and went 0-for-3 from the field. The Grizzlies misfired on all 11 3-point attempts they tried. Keck noticed that Bonneville mucked up his team’s offense, encouraging them to take defenders off the dribble, instead of moving and cutting and passing.
It worked, he admitted. Skyline coughed up three critical turnovers in the fourth frame. The Grizzlies seemed, well, off.
Luckily for them, they have Olson, one of the best scorers in the state. She followed an uneven third quarter with an efficient fourth, converting two baskets and hitting two free throws, which pushed her team’s lead to seven.
Skyline will take the win. It’s important because the Grizzlies now trail 4A conference leader Blackfoot by just one game. Home-court advantage may not be as important in a COVID world, but it beats traveling.
Next, the Grizzlies face Hillcrest at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. That’s another conference matchup.
On the same day, Bonneville will host Rigby, one of the best teams in the state. That’s a daunting task, but if Thursday’s loss revealed anything, it’s that these Bees can run with anyone.
“Second half, we won that second half,” Trane said. “I’m proud of our girls for playing well. Skyline has a great team. I’m happy with our effort tonight.”
SKYLINE 63, BONNEVILLE 57
Skyline 23 16 9 15 — 63
Bonneville 14 10 16 17 — 57
SKYLINE — Sienna Taylor 7, Drew Chapman 20, Sophia Anderson 7, Lizzie Bialas 9, Mattie Olson 18, Tailer Thomas 2.
BONNEVILLE — Kaylie Kofe 9, Whitney Shaw 6, Mia Sorensen 13, Sydnee Hunt 18, Talia Trane 11, Logan Faulkner 9, Sydnee Shurtliff 1.