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Thunderbird heart-breaker happens at state

Hannah Brown
Members of the Skyline boys basketball team take part in the introduction ceremony at the state of there 1A State Basketball Tournament run last week Thursday. The tournament was cut short due to directives from KSHSAA and state-wide coronavirus concerns.

The Skyline T-birds of Pratt ended their season in heartbreaking fashion at the 2A State Tournament on Thursday, March 12. They lost to Hillsboro, 57-51, in a game which they led in all but the final minutes.

After one quarter of play, the Thunderbirds were ahead of Hillsboro High School by a score of 15-2. At the halftime break, the Trojans cut Skyline’s lead down to 7, but the T-birds were still ahead 26-19.

After some back and forth play in the third quarter, SHS held a 44-36 lead over HHS. The Trojans continued their advancement in fourth quarter as the Trojans went cold at the freethrow line, and Hillsboro prevailed over the #1 seeded Skyline Thunderbirds, 57-51.

“We got up big early and I tried to tell the guys not to get comfortable,” said head coach Kenny Eddy. “Hillsboro made a run and then we answered. We had an 11-point lead late in the third quarter. Then in the 4th, they were able to make more plays than we did. It was such a good game! The fans had to have been entertained. It had a little bit of everything. These guys haven't lost often, so it's always hard.”

That same day, the Kansas State High School Athletics Association (KSHSAA) announced that all remaining games in all state basketball tournaments would be canceled because of escalating concerns regarding COVID-19.

“I really don't know how to feel about it or even how to put it into words. Had we won, it would have been completely out of our control and more devastating. All I know is that these guys went out playing on the stage they deserved to be on. They earned it,” Eddy said.

The class of 2020 did not end their season as they had hoped, but they did notch a place in the history books of Skyline Schools. This particular group of young men won 20 games in back-to-back seasons, were 2019-20 undefeated league champions, won games by an average margin of 30.1 points, and were back-to-back Thunderbird Classic and 54 Classic Champions. The 2019-20 Thunderbirds made the state tournament for just the fourth time in school history and were the #1 seed in the state tournament for the first time ever.

Coach Eddy said that he memories made and the relationships built by these players will mean the most in the long run. The support shown by the school and community was much appreciated.

“The support that we received from the community was unbelievable. It didn't matter whether you were a Greenback or a T-bird. It really felt like people came together for our guys. I can't be thankful enough for all of it. Our school gave us a great sendoff and every elementary class gifted the boys with unique bags of goodies. The guys were rock stars for a week. I'm sure they loved it!” said Eddy.