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Girls basketball: Skyline ready to break through in 2019-20

Falcons enter new season with confidence in promising veteran core

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LONGMONT – It has been a long time since the Skyline girls basketball team has had a truly convincingly successful season.

In 2018-19, the Falcons went 13-12, which is one of several seasons in which the Skyline girls have finished right around the .500 mark. But the program has also had a great many more final records over the past 15 seasons in which the number in the loss column is a lot bigger than the one in the win column.

This year’s Skyline girls, however, believe things are about to change for the better and they make a pretty convincing argument.

LONGMONT, CO - Nov. 29, 2019: ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
After averaging nearly a double-double last year with 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, Skyline senior Ashayla Powers looks to take the Falcons to new heights in 2019-20.

“I just want to prove myself and prove to my team and everyone else that we want to make it as far as we can in the playoffs,” Falcons senior Ashayla Powers said. “We’re looking really good. We all need to step up so we can be even better. I think we will.”

Powers is one of the biggest reasons the Falcons think they are poised for a breakthrough, but not the only reason.

Last season, Powers led the Falcons with 15.9 points per game. Also with 9.7 rebounds, the 5-foot-11 small forward nearly averaged a double-double. Teammate Alyssa McKrola averaged 12.5 points, and Lindrey Schendel averaged 11.8 points and 7.9 rebounds a night.

On top of having three dynamic seniors coming back this season, the Falcons didn’t graduate a single player from last year’s team that won the program’s first playoff game in recent memory. That depth, which includes  improved players like sophomores Natalie Weathres and Charlee, Neb will come in handy, especially since the Falcons will be without Schendel until at least January while she recovers from tearing her ACL in May.

“It’s exciting to have our core group of girls back, which is always helpful,” Schendel said. “We also have a bunch of strong freshmen so they should help this season and in the coming years. I’m super ready to just get back to playing but I think the girls will be able to do really well for the first half of the season. Hopefully I can help them out when I get back.”

The Falcons will enter the 2019-20 campaign confident that the window is wide open for them to have a breakout season. They also know they have no juniors on the team, so that window could be closing soon and they need to make this season count. Then there’s the fact the Tri-Valley League in which they play looks tougher and deeper than it has been in years.

Teams like Holy Family, Berthoud and Windsor will contend for the Tri-Valley title as usual. But eight of the league’s nine teams made the state tournament last season and upstart clubs like Skyline and Erie appear to be much-improved this winter.

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Skyline’s Aly McKrola should be another player to watch in the Tri-Valley League in 2019-20.

Skyline’s season opens on Tuesday with a matchup against Ponderosa, the very team that ended their 2018-19 campaign in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament. However their season begins, the Falcons believe they have finally positioned themselves to expect it to end in March instead of February.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Falcons head coach Kirk Blackard said. “I don’t even know what the expectations are. We’re just going to go out and play. We’re happy to be the sleeper in the league. At the league meeting, everybody is talking about Berthoud, Holy Family and Windsor. I’m kind of turning the girls loose and we’re going to run so it will be interesting to see how things shake out.”