Skyline basketball looking to peak at right timeFeb 18, 2022 02:12PM ● By Daniel Olsen
The Skyline boys basketball team started the season 9-1. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
By Daniel Olsen | [email protected]
After some rough losses in this up-and-down season, coach Cory Plant still has high hopes for his Skyline Eagles boys basketball team in the postseason. Many of their losses have been close contests, and they finally snapped a three game losing streak with a two-point win over East.
“We started out hot at 9-1,” Plant said. “But then we dropped some games, won a few, and dropped a few more. Covid kind of affected us and we also had some injuries. We are 12-8 but most of our defeats are under six points. We score around 67 points a game while giving up 61 points. Our highest scoring performances were 88 points which we did twice.”
There are several key contributors that will be honored on Senior Night when Skyline hosts rival Olympus for their final regular season game.
“(Kolton) Smith is a really good shooter who can hit a lot of threes,” Plant said. “He made 10 in one game. Teams plan their games around him now. The secret is out. He is hot in rebounds and leads the team in defensive rebounds. He’s probably the second leading scorer on the team. He shoots 41% from three, 70% on free throws and 47% from the field. He is also high in assists and steals.”
Smith is also one of the team captains and is ready to help lead the team to victory.
“Our players are ready to make a run,” Smith said. ‘We have the firepower to compete with any team. We have to play our best basketball to accomplish our goals.”
Hansen Gu, the other team captain, is also ready to help his senior class and the team as a whole achieve their goals.
“We have the ability to be very good this year,” Gu said. “If we will play as a team and continue to work hard.”
There are younger players who are also having a huge impact on games for the Eagles. One of those players is Yorgio Golesis.
“Golesis is a great junior who leads the team in scoring,” Plant said. “He shoots a 48% field goal average. He shoots the ball well and attacks the basket. He’s one of the state leaders in assists. He also leads the team in steals. He’s averaging 20 points per game and seven assists.”
With all the ups and the downs, there have been several fond memories that the 2021-22 Eagles will have about this season.
“In the first part of the season we were giving up a lot of fast break points,” Plant said. “We turned it around to change. We are getting better. Fortunately, these juniors that have been doing so well are coming back. We can be a formidable opponent for anybody. We lost by 16 points to Olympus. All other losses were by six points and under. Three were overtime games. We can excel and continue on a good path. We think we can beat them (Olympus). We lost by three at their place.”
While the team has been improving, there is still room for growth. This is especially true on one end of the floor.
“It comes down to one thing and that’s defense,” Plant said. “We need to play consistent defense. Someone needs to pick up the breakdowns when we have them. We need to keep attacking and pressure the ball. We also need to deny passes and defend the three-point shot.”
While every high school basketball team has aspirations of a state title, there are smaller goals that the Eagles have set along the way.
“We want to make more threes than the other team,” Plant said. “We want to get to the final four and play at a university. We also want to get to the foul line more than other teams. That hasn’t always happened. That starts by attacking the basket. We need to try to move the ball more. We need six passes per possession. By doing that you win that possession. Our larger goal was to win the region, but that’s not going to happen.”
The first couple games are at home sites of the top RPI teams. The bracket is still to be determined for the 5A division as of press deadline. If they win their last game, there’s a chance they could have a home game. The Huntsman Center would be the site for the semis. The Marriott Center at BYU is the location for the 5A state championship.
Winning the last game won’t be easy though. Olympus is a formidable rival that has been a tough matchup for Skyline.
Despite the formidable challenge, the Eagles feel they have a chance if they play to their strengths.
“We have speed and quickness,” Plant said. “We have a little bit of height, but we’ve got shooters too. It’s hard in this sport. If we lose one game then we get stung and it feels like we start falling in quicksand. It’s a process and that’s the beautiful part of high school basketball.”
Fans can check the state playoff bracket which will be released on the UHSAA website following the conclusion of regular season games which will end for the 5A classification on Feb. 19.
“The thing about Skyline is the kids work all year round,” Plant said. “We played some tournaments in the offseason and beat a lot of good teams in good leagues. You go through some adversity every season. The ones that handle it better come out stronger. The season is not over yet. We still have the opportunity to make a run.”