A winning season ended too soon for the Skyline Thunderbirds of Pratt.
The Skyline boys basketball team didn’t know Henry Chou when they played Lakin in the second round of sub-state on Feb. 28 but they likely won’t forget him. Chou had 32 of Lakin’s 67 points and lead the Broncs to a 67-48 victory over Skyline, ending their post season play.
Lakin lost the championship game to Ness City by 66-58.
Skyline Head Basketball Coach Kenny Eddy said the team prepared for two weeks almost non-stop for sub state play. They beat Elkhart in the first round 75-36 then prepared for Lakin.
Lakin plays much like Skyline and the game started out like they thought it would. They had practiced as best they could but couldn’t simulate dealing with Chou in practice.
“He (Chou) had a good game. He shot the ball better than on file,” Eddy said. “Skill wise, he was the best player we saw all year. He was definitely the difference maker. They had the best player on the court that night.”
When Chou was not in the game, Skyline was better, playing their standard man-to-man defense.
“We weren’t as aggressive as we normally are,” Eddy said.
The game started well with Skyline up by four at the end of the first quarter. But the team got into foul trouble in the second quarter. In the second and third quarters, the team played a little soft and they weren’t aggressive enough on offense, Eddy said.
As for Skyline on offense, they were pretty even across the board.
While the loss to Lakin was a disappointment, the basketball season as a whole was one that will always be remembered.
“You don’t often get to be part of a season like that. Very few teams win 20 games in a year,” Eddy said. “We ended the season 20 and 2 and our guys earned it. I can’t say enough about their sacrifice and all those early morning practices. That’s how it goes if you want to be good.”
Eddy said he had never been part of any team in high school or college that had the hunger and desire to keep the winning going.
“We got to a point that we just expected to win,” Eddy said.
One of the hardest parts of the season was to keep them hungry to play good ball. That is tough in a long basketball season.
The starting five, including seniors Colby Shriver and Cade Swonger, were strong all year and they got good help from the guys coming off the bench.
“The guys (on the bench) were ready when their numbers were called,” Eddy said.
Overall, the team handled the pressure well. Eddy said he probably put too much pressure on them to continue to win rather than relax and let it go. After all, they are 15 and 16 and 17 year old boys in high pressure situations.
As this season ends, Eddy said he is excited about next season. Three returning junior starters, Mark Schmidt, Steve Fisher and Sam Fisher, account for 35 to 40 points a game and that’s about 65 percent of the team scoring. Adding sophomores Eliazar Carrasco and Ryan Adams equals about 75 percent of the team scoring that is coming back.