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6A girls basketball playoffs: Skyridge press pushes Syracuse out in quarterfinals

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | Feb 28, 2023

OGDEN — Syracuse High girls basketball hadn’t solved the Skyridge pressure defense like it wanted in the first quarter Tuesday but, with enough stops on the other end, the Titans were in it after Avery Sanders drove coast to coast against the first-quarter clock and scooped in an and-one, lefty layup to get her team to within 9-8.

But that full-court, pressure D did eventually wear on the young, No. 10-seeded Titans.

No. 2 Skyridge opened the second quarter on a 13-0 run, capped with one of Shae Toole’s three 3-pointers on the evening, and eventually put away Syracuse 52-34 in a 6A state quarterfinal at the Dee Events Center.

“This is a good experience for us,” Syracuse head coach Braden Hamblin said. “I thought we battled decently defensively but offensively, that’s where we came up short. I think we came out a little timid … and struggled to put the ball in the hole. But great season, we learned a lot.”

Maylee Anderson broke the second-quarter run with a 3-pointer for Syracuse but that was all the Titans managed in the frame, shooting 1 of 14 to get down 24-11 at the half.

The Titans (16-9) held Skyridge to nine points in the third quarter but couldn’t make headway, losing the quarter 9-6.

“Only one team comes out winning. Every time you lose, you just have to be able to learn from it,” Sanders said. “I felt like we battled.”

Sanders’ prolific long-range shooting constituted most of Syracuse’s offense Tuesday as the Titans, when they advanced past the full-court press, struggled to consistently find good looks against the Falcons’ extended half-court zone.

Sanders finished with 22 points with a 5-of-5 mark from the 3-point line.

“Avery battled. She’s been through a couple ups and downs as far as her shooting but as of late, she’s been very confident and I thought she was a great leader out there tonight, just being confident in your shot and taking what they give you,” Hamblin said.

Sanders added four rebounds, three steals and two assists.

“I have not been shooting well so I was very surprised and happy,” she said. “Hopefully next time I can help us handle that press and calm my team down, step up and make a few more shots.”

Anderson ended with six points for Syracuse and Cortnie Barker hauled down 11 rebounds.

Sanders, Anderson, Barker, Cami King and Ariah Hacker all return as starters next season for the Titans.

“This should help them leaps and bounds … we talked about if we could make a run and get up here to the college stadium in this atmosphere, it’s going to be good for us,” Hamblin said. “That experience is going to be priceless and hopefully drive them a little bit this offseason, with this bit of a sour taste in their mouths … we fully expect to be right back here next year.”

Skyridge also knocked Syracuse out of the playoffs in the 2022 second round and in the 2020 quarterfinals.

Toole led Skyridge (19-5) with 13 points, and Cambree Blackham and Merceius Mili each scored 10.


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