For three quarters Tuesday night at Thompson Valley High School, the Skyline boys basketball team played nothing like a team starting four players without out any varsity experience prior to this year.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, all four quarters count.
Despite getting down 18-2 late in the first quarter, Skyline still managed to make a game of it before eventually falling to the host Eagles, 57-47.
Skyline coach Michael Peterson liked what he saw from his young team, which battled back to get within seven points early in the fourth.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” Peterson said. “Seven out of our first eight games are on the road. We’re young. We have four kids that played C team last year that are now starting on our varsity, so we’re doing everything we need to do.”
The Falcons had trouble containing Eagles sophomore guard Mike Olivas, who scored a game-high 20 points, 15 of which came from the 3-point line — on his 16th birthday nonetheless.
“It felt really good,” Olivas said. “I had a lot of help from my teammates getting me the ball, but it felt really good. It was a great win.”
After Thompson Valley’s incredibly fast start, and with the Falcons cutting down on their turnovers, Skyline was able to make a game of it.
But the closest they ever got was seven, with Colton Dabney’s basket less a minute into the fourth quarter making it 42-35. Two 3-pointers by Olivas in the next three minutes, however, allowed the Eagles to eventually pull away.
TV coach Josh Robinson admitted the victory was “ugly” at times, and credited the Falcons for getting back in the game.
“We had stretches there where we didn’t make as many open looks as we needed to, but toward the end I think our conditioning helped us a little bit,” Robinson said. “I give credit to Skyline. They played a good game, they gave us some trouble.”
The Falcons were led by Dabney, a junior forward who scored 18 points, including 12 in the second half, while adding three blocked shots.
Junior forward Zach Anthony chipped in with seven points for the Falcons, with Dustin Mandell adding six and Austin Gutierrez and Luciano Cuesada chipping in five each.
Peterson said it wasn’t particularly the sheer number of turnovers the cost the Falcons, but rather their poor timing.
“You play great defense, you’re down by eight three consecutive possessions, and you turn it over three times in a row,” Peterson said. “That killed us. Against a good team on the road that shoots the ball well, you can’t make those mistakes.”
Olivas was the only Eagle to score in double figures, while senior forward Karsen Buschjost added eight, followed by sophomore center Austin Dyer and junior forward Jonny Pomerleau chipping in with seven apiece.
With Dyer and Estevan Garcia, both starters, limited because of foul trouble, the Eagles got a boost from their bench as they were able to hold on in the second half.
“We have trouble managing our fouls, and then we let teams kind of stick around by shooting free throws,” Robinson said. “So we were able to kind of spell some guys in there, some guys came off the bench and were able to help us along there.” With the Eagles picking up their fifth win in the young season, the team has already matched its win total from the two previous seasons combined.
“It’s really excited to be a part of this program. I’ve only been here for a year, so this is my second year, and it’s great,” Olivas said. “I haven’t seen this program like this in awhile.”
Meanwhile, the Falcons will take the rest of the month off before returning to action Jan. 1 at Sterling.
Peterson remains optimistic about the direction of his team.
“We’re 2-4 and all four of our losses are single digits against battle-tested good teams,” And like I said, we’ve only had one home game and we blew that game out by 22. The schedule will balance itself out, and I feel that if we continue to improve, things will happen for us.”
Thompson Valley 57,
Skyline 47 At Thompson Valley HS
C. Dabney 7 4-8 18, D. Mandrell 1 0-0 3, M Rice 3 0-0 6, Z. Anthony 3 1-1 7, T Wright 1 1-1 3, A Gutierrez 2, M L. Cuesada 2 1-2 5 Totals 19 8-14 47.
THOMPSON VALLEY (5-0)
Trent Baisley 2 0-0 4, Jonny Pomerleau 1 4-5 7, Estevan Garcia 3 0-0 6, Mike Olivas 7 1-2 20, Grant Rohrbouck 1 0-0 3, Karsen Buschjost 4 0-3 8, Sam Baca 1 0-0 2, Austin Dyer 3 1-2 7. Totals 20 6-12 57.Score by quarters:
Skyline 8 10 15 14 — 47
Thompson Valley 23 9 10 12 — 57
3-point field goals — Thompson Valley (6): Olivas 5, Rohrbouck; Skyline (1): Total fouls — Skyline 12, Thompson Valley 16. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none.