Before entering the locker room after Tuesday’s tense 60-58 win at Pleasant Grove, Skyridge coach Jeff Gardner and his staff armed themselves with water bottles.
They know how to celebrate a region title.
It was a wet and wild couple of minutes in that locker room as the Falcons reveled in not only another big road victory but in clinching no worse than a tie for the Region 4 championship in their first year in what is generally considered the toughest region in the state.
“There was a lot of talk about us going into big Region 4,” Gardner said. “We’ve had a little bit of a chip on our program’s shoulder. We felt like we could come in right away and compete. This is a very good region which makes the region championship even sweeter.”
With two minutes to play, Skyridge trailed Pleasant Grove 54-50 but found a way reel the Vikings back in. Braden Housley connected on a big 3-pointer and was instrumental in pair of defensive stops to seize momentum late.
“We’re not a pressing team,” Gardner said. “We really haven’t had a situation all year where we had to take the ball away like that. About a week ago we asked the players what press they were most comfortable in and it was the three-quarter 2-2-1. That was the one that got us the first big steal.”
Housley’s theft out of the Falcons press led to a pair of clutch free throws from Kai Roberts to give Skyridge a 57-56 lead with 50.4 seconds to play. PG worked for a shot to take the lead but Housley was there again to knock the ball away. He was fouled and made one of two from the line for a 58-56 advantage with 34.3 seconds remaining.
Kael Mikkelsen was fouled on a drive on the other end and he drained a pair of charity tosses to tie the game at 58 with 20.5 seconds showing. Skyridge got the ball to Trevon Snoddy, who was fouled going to the basket with two second remaining. He calmly hit both free throws for a 60-58 lead and PG’s full court pass was stolen away to preserve the victory.
As a senior class, the Falcons are 13-2 in region road games the past three seasons.
“We do it by staying composed, running our stuff and being consistent on offense and defense,” Housley said. “It feels so good to win the region championship. It’s a great accomplishment for our seniors and everyone in practice. I love winning on the road. It fuels us and helps us play better. We just needed to stay composed during loud games like this.”
Skyridge (7-2 Region 4, 16-5 overall) led by as many as eight points in the first half but by just one, 23-22, at halftime. A 12-0 run in the third period pushed the Falcons advantage to 11, 35-24, with four minutes left. Skyridge led 43-39 entering the fourth but Pleasant Grove took a 48-46 lead on a pair of Isaac Vaha free throws with 5:32 to play, setting up the exciting conclusion.
Reid – a junior who passed 1,000 career points during the game – led the Falcons with 20 points. Snoddy had 16 and Housley contributed 15 with a trio of 3-pointers.
Vaha paced Pleasant Grove (6-3, 13-9) with 18 points and Mikkelsen added 17.
Skyridge has a one-game lead on Pleasant Grove with one game to play on Friday. The Falcons, who were No. 4 in the 6A RPI last week, are in a good position to claim one of the six first-round byes in the state tournament next week. Skyridge hosts Lone Peak on Friday, while Pleasant Grove finishes as Westlake.