Cottonwood Heights • Perhaps needed the calendar to turn to a new year to begin the transition from 2017 state champions to 2018 title contender.
The Skyline girls’ basketball team both fell off the precipice then began the climb back up in the first week of January.
The Eagles lost unexpectedly to Taylorsville on their home court Wednesday. Redemption came Friday when Skyline voyaged to Brighton, started the game hot and cruised home with a 66-33 victory.
“We’ve kind of gotten to that point where we don’t have that pressure anymore because we’re a new team,” Skyline senior Madi Grange said about the expectations placed on the defending champs. “That state championship team has kind of gone away. But we know we have the potential after this game. That showed us a lot.”
Grange popped a pair of 3-pointers in the first two minutes to get Skyline (8-5) off to the right start. The Eagles allowed only six points in the first quarter and led by 11 entering the second period. Grange, who finished with 17 points to lead all players, had 11 in the opening stanza.
Skyline scored the first nine points to start the second quarter and got 3-pointers from Kate Vorwaller, Grange and Barrett Jessop to lead 26-6.
“They were on fire and got off to a great start,” Brighton coach Jim Gresh said.
The Bengals, who got 11 points from Aly Vyfinkel and 10 from Annabelle Warner, pushed back in the second. Brighton (5-5) used several Eagles turnovers to score 11 straight points, all by Vyfinkel and Warner.
But Skyline limited the Bengals to only four points in the third and reclaimed its 20-point margin, 43-23, entering the final period.
“It all starts on the defensive end. When we get stops, that’s when offense comes for us,” Grange said. “Sometimes our shots aren’t falling, but today they were.”
Kiana Eskelson scored 12 points, while Eagles center Cameron Mooney tallied 11.
Skyline was singing a much different tune after losing to the Warriors two days earlier. Taylorsville entered Wednesday’s game 3-9 record but posted the 34-31 win on the Eagles’ court.
“That was a shock for us,” Grange said. “We weren’t working as a team. We were down on each other and down on ourselves.”
But Skyline was without Jessop in that game, and as Eagles coach Lynette Schroeder pointed out, Taylorsville was better than many think.
“Taylorsville is a great team. Others may think they’re not — and we just couldn’t match the effort that they brought,” Schroeder said.
“We had a good discussion about it [Thursday]. It kind of brought us back down to why we play and it kind of showed tonight. It was definitely a matter of intensity. The effort hasn’t been there, but it was tonight.”
SKYLINE 66, BRIGHTON 33
• Skyline starts the game with a 12-3 run and leads 26-6 early in the second quarter as Madison Grange scores 14 of her 17 points in that span.
• The Eagles also get a dozen points from Kiana Eskelson and 11 from senior center Cameron Mooney, who also grabs nine rebounds.
• Brighton’s only instance of scoring in consecutive possessions came during an 11-0 run in the second quarter.