Skyline girls basketball ready to tip off state championship defense
Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM
● By Jana Klopsch
By Josh McFadden
This time last year, the Skyline girls basketball team was coming off a region title but had struggled in non-region play, and bowed up in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament. All the team did was respond with another region crown and the 4A state championship.
Skyline went 11-1 last season in Region 6, beating out Judge Memorial by a game for the league crown. The Eagles then defeated Judge in the 4A title game, capping off a 23-4 season. It was a satisfying end to the season for a program that had come narrowly close to championships in 2014 and 2015 when the Eagles lost in the state championship.
Coming off their first state championship since the 2007–08 season, head coach Lynette Schroeder knows her Eagles will get each opponent’s best shot each game.
“I feel that it puts a target on our back, especially having major key players returning from last year’s team,” Schroeder said. “But even then, I’ve always felt like Skyline has been a target for its opponents. My players and I feel that every season we have the ability to take state, so I think the pressure to do so has always been there, at least in our eyes.”
Schroeder will lean on a trio of seniors to guide the team toward another championship. Guards Madison Grange and Barrett Jessop will team with center Cameron Mooney to run the offense and frustrate foes on the defensive end. Junior forward Kiana Eskelson averaged 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. She’s another focal point of this Skyline team.
“All of these players will step up in various leadership roles, as they are my most experienced players,” Schroeder said.
Despite an opportunity to win another state championship, Schroeder is focusing on the simple things for this season to be a success. She believes if her team will play together and improve from game to game, good things will be in store in once more.
“My expectations are to play as a team, to be disciplined, to work hard and smart, to compete, to be leaders and great examples on and off the court, and to learn and grow,” she said. “I feel that if these expectations are met, my players have a good opportunity to contend at the state tournament.”
Schroeder isn’t worried about the pressure her players will feel each game as they try to live up to expectations and match last season’s accomplishments. Instead, she believes it will drive the girls and motivate them to excel.
“My players are competitive and they are high achievers,” she said. “I think that competing at a high level comes naturally to them. The majority of them have had that experience and pressure from last year’s state run.”
That experience and exposure to high-profile games could come in handy this season when contests are tight and opponents are clamoring for a chance to knock the champions off their pedestal. Skyline’s first challenge is a Nov. 21 home meeting with American Fork. A week later, the Eagles host Syracuse.
“I’m excited to see what the season has in store for us,” Schroeder said. “I’m looking forward to helping my team improve and reaching our team goals. I’m looking forward to strategizing and competing in practice and games. I’m excited to continuing to build on coach–player relationships and helping players apply basketball lessons to life off the court.”
Schroeder is confident that if her players continue to work cohesively as a unit and recognize that the sum is greater than the individual pieces, their talent and experience will carry them toward their goals.