Skyline’s 3-point shooters – Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin said afterward he had seen Skyline attempt 52 treys in a game and make as many as 18 – forced the Panthers to play man-to-man defense most of the contest.
“You can’t just sit back and play them zone,” Austin noted.
Skyline (25-4) wasn’t outstanding from outside the arc but by penetrating and passing outside as the defense reacted the Viking got enough good looks to finish 6-for-19 for the game after going 4-for-11 in the first half. Austin said Tuesday’s Skyline attack was nothing different than the offense the Panthers had prepared to face.
“When you know everything they’re going to do and you can’t stop it the better team won,” he said.
By contrast, the Panthers usually effective outside attack never found the range. Spring Garden was 0-16 from long range. Post players Haley Motes and Tykeah Rogers accounted for all but 14 of Spring Garden’s points. Motes, a senior, scored 16 points, had 10 rebounds and never left the court. Rogers, the sophomore, finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds but played just 22 minutes after picking up her second foul with about two minutes left in the first quarter.
“She’s very physical. They had nobody to matchup with her,” Austin said of Rogers who scored seven of her team’s first eight points. “We needed her on the floor.”
By halftime, Skyline led 36-21 and the Vikings increased that lead to as many as 18 points early in the third quarter. Trailing 48-33 after three quarters, Spring Garden got the first six points of the fourth on a pair of Rogers’ free throws, a basket by Rogers on a putback and an inside bucket from Darian Gaines.
With 3:33 left, Skyline’s Sydney Ivey hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to put her team up 55-41. The next eight points were Spring Garden’s – two inside baskets by Motes and two more by Rogers – but the run took almost three minutes off the clock. Gaines scored on the inside with 15 seconds left to make it 56-51 but two seconds later two free throws by Kelsey Ivey completed the scoring and sealed Spring Garden’s fate.
Madison Sides had five points, all in the second quarter, and was 3-for-3 at the free throw line. Sides also had eight rebounds. Gaines finished with four points. Emory Reedy scored three points and Auburn Kirk had two points.
To reach the regional tournament, Spring Garden demolished Jefferson Christian 77-17 in a sub-regional game Thursday at Spring Garden. Gaines and Alex Robertson each scored 12 points and Rogers had 11. Kirk contributed nine points and nine steals. Savannah Dempsey drilled three 3-point baskets in the second half for her nine points. Motes and Reedy had six points apiece. Sides scored five points. Kaitlyn Rogers had three points. Payton McGinnis scored two points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kerstin Bryant had two points and three assists.