ROY — Even though the Sky View Bobcats took a two-point lead into halftime when they visited Roy on Tuesday evening, the Royals were finding — and hitting — just about any shot they wanted.
“They were eating our lunch,” Sky View head coach Kimber Hall said.
So his team made a defensive change — from a full-court man-to-man to a packed zone — and changed the momentum of the game. In the second half, the Bobcats halted the Royals’ scoring opportunities and took advantage of their own, pulling away with a 71-64 win in Region 5 play.
“We like to press, we like a different type of defense, so we played that most of the half,” Hall said. “Towards the end of the first half, we decided No. 20 (Aubree Porter) and (Kaitlyn) Hurley were the ones that were killing us. We just felt like we needed to stack it in.”
After a slow start, the Royals caught fire in the second quarter, primarily due to Porter’s shooting and Hurley’s game management. The former, who averages just 1.7 3-pointers per game, hit four deep 3s from the same left wing, giving Roy its largest lead of four points with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
“She was lights out tonight,” Hall said. “We eventually went into a triangle-and-two and just played her and Hurley man-to-man and played a zone underneath to try and stop them from scoring.”
Porter continued to shoot, and hit two more 3s in the third period, but the Bobcats’ defense began to create more opportunities on offense. Junior guard Lindsey Jensen found her groove midway through the third, scoring six straight points and giving Sky View an eight-point lead, 49-41.
“That’s where we got our lead — and we held it,” Hall said. “Lindsey’s just a junior. She’s strong; she rebounds well; and of course she’s lights out when she shoots a 3 if she gets a good look at it. She played well tonight.”
While Roy chipped away at Sky View's lead throughout the final eight minutes, the Bobcats slowed their pace, took advantage of the clock, and forced the Royals to foul. Sky View shot 17 of its 30 free throws in the fourth quarter, extending the lead from the line as well as from the floor.
“The thing is, as (Roy) coach (Brock) Randall said to me, ‘You’ve got so many shooters,’” Hall said. “We had different girls step up at different times. And I don’t feel bad about any of our girls shooting the ball. I feel confident in any of them.”
Jensen finished with 17 points, Kathryn Williams added 15, and Kennedy Schow and Jessica Smith each scored 13 points. Naena Bland stepped into the starting lineup in place of an injured teammate and scored seven points.
“(Bland) has a lot of steals, does a lot of good things on defense, and she made a few baskets tonight,” Hall said. “I thought Jessica Smith played really well in the middle for us. She’s just thin, skinny, but she works her heart out. And I thought overall our point guard Kennedy did a good job. She ran the offense well.”
Porter totaled 22 points with the six 3-pointers and Hurley had 15 points with two 3s. Shelby Harvey scored 16 points for the Royals.
Ultimately, Hall and his coaching staff were both happy with the win and the down-to-the-wire aspect of the contest.
“We got beat by Fremont, and that was a close game until the last minute and a half,” the coach said of his team's 77-64 loss in mid-December. “Ever since that we’ve just blown people out. It was good to have a close game. We’ve got Bonneville coming up and Mountain Crest, and they’ll be tough games.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.
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