Saturday night felt like a flashback, one of those overused cinematic and literary contrivances where suddenly a character is transported to a moment in his past.
For me, I was suddenly back at Timpanogos High School in the winter of 2008.
Out on the court, the Timberwolves had a senior guard who was one of the best scorers in the state. He had a silky-smooth jump shot, the ability to create for himself and the quickness to get into the lane.
That was the last time I saw the full array of Skyler Halford's offensive arsenal — until he took advantage of his first career start to torch San Diego for a career-high 28 points to help the Cougars to the 87-54 win over the Toreros.
"It was fun," Halford said. "When you get in a groove and shots are falling, the basket gets bigger. We have a lot of guys who can stroke it and it can be a different guy every night. I was just trying to find spots and they fell tonight."
BYU junior guard Tyler Haws said seeing Halford catch fire brought back memories of those high school days.
"He’s a scorer and has a scorer’s mentality," Haws said. "You couldn’t leave him open in high school and you can’t leave him open now. They came in bunches for him tonight and he kept getting good looks."
Back then, Haws was the third-leading scorer in the state, pouring in 21 points per game for Lone Peak. Halford was second at 23.5 ppg with Pleasant Grove's C.J. Wilcox (now the leading scorer for Washington) earning the top spot by scoring 23.7 points per game.
Three outstanding scorers, all playing in the same region. I remember some fun nights watching those guys go at it.
Since his size and lack of team success left him with limited options out of high school, Halford's road took him on an LDS mission to Brazil and then to a great two years at Salt Lake Community College. There he just kept scoring, averaging 17.4 ppg on his way to being an NJCAA first-team All-American.
His transfer to BYU didn't exactly get Cougar fans all that excited, however. Provo hasn't exactly been a place where JC guys have had a lot of success recently.
But Haws said he personally was pretty excited to have Halford in town.
"I knew he’d be a spark for us," the junior said. "He started coming off the bench and now he was in the starting lineup. I was excited when I knew he was coming."
Halford didn’t exactly come in and dominate, making just 2-of-12 from beyond the arc in his first eight games. But Haws said the newcomer never got down on himself.
“He doesn’t get discouraged,” Haws said. “He’s always the guy who is here after practice shooting shots. He’s a fighter, always ready for the next shot and the next play.”
Since that point, however, Halford is 13-of-23 from downtown including his 4-of-8 performance against San Diego.
The image of Halford’s left-handed rainbow shot swishing through the net is probably what most BYU fans will remember from Saturday’s win, but Haws said it was at the other end of the court that the junior had the biggest impact.
“His biggest part was his defense against (Torero guard Johnny Dee),” Haws said. “It’s easy to relax when the shots are falling but he never let up the whole night.”
Dee entered the game averaging nearly 19 points per contest but struggled and only score eight against the Cougars.
“He’s a talented player who is always racing around the floor,” Halford said. “I got a lot of help from the big guys showing on screens and others chasing him down.”
BYU head coach Dave Rose said putting Halford on Dee wasn’t an easy decision but added he liked what the Cougar junior could bring to the matchup.
“He’s got a lot of energy,” Rose said. “He’s got quickness, speed and skill. It’s size that’s his issue. The key was to get to (Dee) on the catch. If he catches it, he’ll light you up. That was a big emphasis of the game plan and we did a good job executing it.”
Halford’s relentless defensive pressure appeared to frustrate Dee, resulting in a costly mistake. In trying to get away from Halford, Dee pushed off and picked up his second foul. That sent San Diego’s leading scorer to the bench in the middle of a 16-2 BYU run that helped the Cougars control the contest.
“When as shooter shots aren’t falling, it can be frustrating,” Halford said. “Him getting his second foul helped us a lot at that point.”
I don’t remember Halford being so tireless at the defensive end in his high school days but he didn’t have a lot of help.
He’s matured into a player that now puts the good of the team over his own, which is why he was out there diving across the floor after a loose ball to start a fast break when his team was up by 30 points.
“I just try to do my best to help the team win and tonight was a great game for us as a team,” Halford said.
It won’t be easy in the future as opponents now know what he is capable of. But Halford showed Saturday he can be pretty impressive.
If he can continue to be reliable at both ends, he might just prove to be a big piece of the puzzle, one the Cougars have been searching for.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd.