Host Cunningham beat Skyline's girls 49-31 in the first round of the 54 Classic.

The final score is not always indicative of the way a game played out. That was the case Tuesday in Skyline's 49-31 loss to host Cunningham in the opening round of the girls version of this year's 54 Classic.

A person just watching the action unfold without access to a scoreboard probably would have been surprised to find out that the final score was not closer.

The Wildcats had whomped the T-Birds pretty good earlier in the season, but Skyline made some adjustments in this game. The Cunningham girls thrive on creating scoring opportunities with their defense and they have a couple of accurate 3-point shooters that they rely upon in the half-court.

To combat the shooters, Kayley Cook, Kailey Hamm, Mackenzie Wright and Gracie Bricker rotated d-ing them up player-to-player. And this time, the Lady Thunderbirds handled the Wildcats' defensive pressure fairly well, and limited the points the Wildcats were able to generate off the turnovers they did commit.

The result was a bit of a slower game than Cunningham is used to, and they seemed to be getting a bit annoyed by it all after a time. The Wildcats led just 10-3 at the first quarter and 17-9 at the break. Had the T-Birds converted a few more of their shots-especially made Cunningham pay a little more off their press- the game would have been very tight at halftime.

SHS was able to maintain the same deficit for the first half of the third quarter, with a pair of baskets by Hamm and a 3 by Bricker allowing the T-Birds to keep pace. It was still 24-18 with 3:30 left in Q3, but then Cunningham went on a run for the rest of the period and a little bit into the fourth quarter that allowed them some breathing room.

"I told the girls we played great for 3 1/2 quarters," SHS head coach Morgan Ballard said later. "We got a little mentally tired, lost concentration, and things got away from us a little bit there at the end of the third quarter."

Up 35-20 going into Q4, Cunningham was able to put the game away 49-31.

"Compared to our earlier game with them, the girls did great,' Coach Ballard said. "We did a great job with pressure d keeping us in the ball game. I'm satisfied with our progress."

With the loss, Skyline falls into the consolation bracket where they will play Kinsley Friday at 3:30 in the semi-finals.

SHS girls 3 6 11 11 31

Cunningh 10 7 18 14 49

Skyline scoring: Gracie Bricker 10, Hamm 8, Gamble 6, Wright 4, Cook 3