By Neil DePew
The Skyline Thunderbirds were in the game until the very end in the opening round of the 54 Classic at Cunningham on Tuesday. When it was over, however, they had once again been denied their first win of the season, falling to Attica 68-61.
The T-Birds trailed 19-13 after one period, and they would play virtually even with the Bulldogs from that point on, ultimately losing by just 7. “We played a good game,” Skyline head coach Justin Miltner analyzed afterwards. “We took care of the ball on offense and had good defensive rotation.”
“We felt like we could match up against Attica,” Miltner continued. “It was nice to have a game where we were not badly outsized, where the deck wasn’t stacked against us from the start.”
As the game proceeded, Skyline got increasingly efficient on offense, each quarter’s point output topping the previous. The T-Birds were able to get some buckets in transition, beating the Bulldogs down the court. At other times, their half-court zone offense was working slickly.
“We started to click on where the scoring opportunities are located,” Miltner explained. “We started picking the right moments to get the ball into the high post.”
Skyline had a nice combination of inside and outside threats. Post man Brandon Abbott was the recipient of entry passes from players like Kasey Gilpin and Blake Lee. From outside, Cole Patterson connected on three long balls, and Lee also chipped in a trifecta.
Trailing by only a basket at halftime, 30-28, Skyline came out after intermission and seized the lead briefly on a Windex bucket by Dustin Weber and a fast-break lay-up by Gilpin. Unfortunately, the Atticas went on a 6-0 run at that point, and the T-Birds found themselves playing catch-up for the rest of the contest.
In the 4th quarter, the Bulldogs got up by as many as 9 with 4:00 left to play. Skyline kept fighting back, though, and a hustle play by Brady McComb resulted in a hoop that shaved the deficit to only 3 again with 1:49 on the clock.
Ultimately, the T-Birds could not get over the hump, falling 68-61, but they had given the 2nd seeded Attica Bulldogs everything they wanted in the opening round of the 54 Classic.
Skyline 13 15 15 18 61
Attica 19 11 16 22 68
Gilpin 2-0-3/6-7; Cole Patterson 2-3-0/2-13; Brandon Abbott 5-0-5/8-15; Weber 2-0-4/7-8; Holz 1-0-0-2; Lee 1-1-0-5; Brady McComb 5-0-1/3-11