Lady Thunderbirds overcome the odds to beat Kiowa County 33-32 in thrilling opener

Hannah Brown
Pratt Tribune
Skyline High School girls basketball team found a way to win by 1 despite having only six players, minus three usual starters.

Skyline High School opened up their gym to the Lady Mavericks of Kiowa County on Friday, December 4 for the first game of the season. The Lady T-Birds won a close game, 33-32. 

“This game was the biggest challenge we’ve faced in many years. The delayed start to our season allowed us only three practices, and we played this game with three starters out and six total players,” said Skyline Head Coach Morgan Ballard. “We lost one to an injury and had to play the fourth quarter with five players. I’ve played in and coached a lot of games, but I’ve never been part of a grittier win than this one.”

The game low scoring throughout the first quarter with just 11 points between the two squads. Skyline had the 7-4 lead at the end of the first. The Lady Thunderbirds stayed steady on offense in the second quarter and limited the scoring of the Lady Mavericks. KCHS didn’t score for the first six minutes of the second quarter. The only point by KCHS came on a free throw while the Lady T-Birds put up double digits in the quarter making the score 18-5 at the break. 

After the halftime break, the Lady Thunderbirds offense stalled, putting up just five points in the quarter, allowing the Lady Mavs to cut into the lead. The game was close going into the fourth quarter, SHS 23, KCHS 20. The Lady Mavericks took the lead in the fourth quarter and held on to it late into the game. Kyrian Keeling drilled two free throws with 1:39 left in the game to retake the lead, 31-30. The Lady Mavericks added to the tense atmosphere with a 2 point basket, making the score 31-32 in favor of the Kiowa County. With less than 30 seconds to go, T’Lane Tobin shot a three pointer in hopes of putting her team ahead. The shot was off, but once again Keeling was there, got the offensive rebound, and score the go-ahead basket with nine seconds left. Kiowa County had a good look at a shot to win the game, but couldn't get the job done. Skyline captured their first victory during a season that is sure to be unpredictable. 

“To watch those six girls go out there and will themselves to that win was awesome. If it sounds like I’m bragging on the heart of these girls, I am!” said Ballard. “Kiowa County always brings it, winning games against competition of their caliber is huge for our program and is hopefully becoming the expectation.”

The Lady Thunderbirds will play in their home tournament this week with hopes of staying undefeated.