Ballard basketball outshoots Skyline boys

January 9, 2013

By Lillian O'Rorke

The Skyline boys basketball team came out to grab the lead Jan. 4 in its first league game following winter break, but eventually lost 49-41 after Ballard ran away with a fourth quarter win.

“I thought we had it in the bag,” said junior guard Jonah Eastern who led the Skyline Spartans that night with 23 points. “We came out mentally ready. We wanted it. And we know how to win; we just don’t know how to finish, and that’s something we’ve got to learn.”

After grabbing on to 9-3 lead during the first five minutes of the game, the Spartans maintained their distance to finish out the first quarter with a score of 11-6. The Ballard Beavers quickly answered back in the second quarter with a 3-point field goal to start things off, followed by a successful performance at the foul line to tie the game 11-11. Eastern netted a jump shot and the fight was on.

The two teams battled basket-for-basket. With three minutes left in the first half, a three-pointer gave the Beavers their first taste of victory with a 16-15 lead. The Spartans countered with Eastern drawing the attention of two Ballard defenders on himself before passing the ball to Bryan Starnes, who fired it in from behind the 3-point line. Despite a free throw by the Beavers in the final minute of the quarter that tied the score, the Spartans pulled away with a 21-18 lead, after Eastern dropped in another three-pointer.

The third quarter started with a bang when Skyline sophomore Matisse Thybulle stole the ball and put two on the board with a dunk.

“It was fun,” said Thybulle. “I wasn’t expecting it myself really. Kind of like, the game takes over, and you just go with the flow.”

His dunk put the Spartans in line for a 9-3 run, which included another 3-pointer by Eastern. Skyline had the lead at 30-21 until the four-minute mark when Ballard kicked off its comeback with its own 3-pointer. The Beavers closed in on the Spartans until finally, in the last second of the third quarter Ballard’s Seth Berger dunked to grab the lead 33-32.

“I reminded them that a dunk is two points,” said Skyline coach Maui Borden. “I wanted them to commit to not looking at the scoreboard in fourth quarter. Because it seems like we play tense when we start to look at the scoreboard and worry ‘oh, we are only up one or only up two.’ When they can just push that aside and just play, they’re fun to watch.”

The Spartans quickly took back the lead in the start of the fourth quarter after Eastern connected for a 3-pointer. Skyline managed to hang on to a small lead for the first four minutes, until the Beavers sprung ahead 38-37 with a 3-point shot that gave them the momentum to go on a run of eight. The Spartans struggled to close the gap and came as close to 45-41 before eventually falling 49-41 at the final buzzer.

“I take as much of the blame as anyone else. … Those kids are doing a great job effort-wise. So, I wouldn’t trade them for anybody,” said Borden. “I think they are doing a tremendous job of responding to a new system. From what they ran last year to what we are running this year is really night and day. And I am just so proud of the way that they’ve taken it on.”

This is Borden’s first year as head coach, and he’s changing things up.

“Last year they were much more set-oriented team. This year, we are more of a continuity offense, and so there are adjustments with that,” he said. “There are some guys that really stepped up tonight. Hunter Cikatz did an amazing job on Seth Berger, who is an amazing player. And that was one of the most really gutsy, courageous efforts I’ve seen out of a guy.”

The 6-foot-7-inch senior guard for Ballard averages 16 points per game, but on Jan. 4, Skyline held him to 10.

“I’m always looking to take the best player. I’m a competitor so I live for that,” said Cikatz, a 6-4 junior for Skyline.


Skyline girls pull off last-second overtime win

Skyline and Ballard put on a nail-biting show Jan. 4 when the two girls team went back and forth on the court, ending the fourth quarter in a 44-44 tie. The game wasn’t decided until the final second of overtime when Haley Smith made the game-winning shot for the Skyline Spartans.

“We were crowd pleasers, I think, tonight. It’s hard on the coach, but it was an exciting game, it was an exciting finish,” said Skyline coach Greg Bruns.

The game started out in a tie with both teams finishing the first quarter with 11 points on the board. Skyline secured a 14-point lead by halftime, but they slowly lost it in the second half as Ballard matched the Spartans missed shots with successful field goals.

“We were thinking that we were back in control and started to settle in,” Bruns said. “Third quarter went really dry for us.”

The two teams finished regular play tied and went into overtime. They continued to go basket for basket until six seconds were left on the clock and Skyline was down by one.

“We threw the ball to Haley Smith. The play was to get it back to Rachel [Shim],” said Bruns. “And she found a way to get to the basket and made the shot at the last second. We didn’t play our best, but those are sometimes the biggest wins for you.”

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