Skyline varsity girls basketball team has played man-to-man defense all season.
But facing a Class 7A Huntsville team that features 6-foot-6 Vanderbilt signee Emily Bowman, Skyline coach Ronnie McCarver made an in-game switch to a zone defense.
The switch was effective against Bowman and helped Class 1A No. 2-ranked Skyline (13-2) notch a 59-49 win over a team from the AHSAA’s largest classification Thursday night at Skyline High School.
Bowman managed just nine points for Huntsville as she faced constant double teams and tight coverage from Skyline’s much shorter defenders.
“We went to that zone we haven’t played all year, and they did a pretty good job in it,” McCarver said. “We told the girls on the back to sag in (on Bowman). We put two down there, one in front and one behind. That helped.”
Neither team had more than a five-point lead through three quarters. Huntsville (6-11) led 15-13 after one quarter, but Skyline led 28-26 at halftime and 43-42 after three quarters. But the Vikings went on a 10-0 scoring run over the first 4:21 of the fourth quarter, getting 3-pointers from Bailee Usrey, Gracie Stucky and Aidan Bellomy and a Stucky free throw to take a 53-42 lead. Huntsville never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Usrey finished with a game-high 26 points for the Vikings while Stucky netted 14, Bellomy pitched in 10 and Alli McAllister added seven. Zakieah Berry led Huntsville with 14 points.
After losing two if its last three games, McCarver said Thursday’s win against a good opponent was a good pick-me up for the Vikings.
“We did some things we needed to do (to win),” McCarver said. “That was good for us. We’d played pretty good up there (at the Maryville, Tennessee tournament), just played some real good teams. We needed that (win).”