LOGAN – The Ridgeline Riverhawks left no doubts. The girls coached by Ainsli Jenks capped off a perfect 25-0 season with an emphatic 67-43 defeat of the Sky View Bobcats.
Saturday’s championship game began with a great show of sportsmanship. Sky View senior forward Melanie Hiatt – who had missed the last nine games due to a knee injury suffered on Jan. 20 – set aside her crutches to make one final appearance. The Riverhawks allowed the Bobcats to win the tip and pass the ball to Hiatt who made an open layup. Sky View obliged Ridgeline to make its own uncontested basket after which Hiatt was subbed out to an ovation from both sides of supporters.
“Mel has been such a big part of our program. And it was special for her. She’s had a rough year,” Sky View head coach Vanessa Hall said. “For Ridgeline to allow us to do that was just awesome. Credit to their program.”
“I know Mel. Mel doesn’t’ get another opportunity to play a state basketball game,” Jenks said. “Scott and I had kind of talked about it a little bit and the girls said we would love to do that. Mel should get those points and be able to experience a little bit of a state game.”
After that it was game on, and Ridgeline wasn’t keen on allowing any more baskets. For the rest of the first quarter Sky View made just one, a late 3-pointer to bring the Bobcats back within 10 points of the Riverhawks who’d spent much of the opening quarter racing ahead.
By halftime the lead had reached 21 points.
Turnovers were a huge factor in Ridgeline’s jump ahead. The Bobcats were forced into 12 giveaways in the first half alone, 23 for the game. Those not only stifled Sky View’s offense, but led to numerous fast break points.
Emilee Skinner took full advantage of many of those turnovers, getting several of her game-high 28 points off her six steals. Skinner ended the game with four assists and a pair of rebounds to go with her points and steals totals. With her 28 points, Skinner eclipsed 1,000 points as just a sophomore. Elise Livingston had 12 points as the only other Ridgeline player in double figures. Macie Brown had six points and a team-leading eight rebounds.
The victory continues a dominant two-year run, though this year had a much more satisfactory conclusion. Last year Ridgeline made it to the championship game with only one loss on its overall record (24-1 including 10-0 in Region 11 games) only to come up short in a 58-55 double-overtime loss to Desert Hills.
“The girls from that minute knew they wanted to go take care of business this year,” Jenks said. “And they just went after it. Put in lots of hours.”
Jenks certainly recognized how special it was for the team to go undefeated, but it’s not something the team tried to focus on, instead breaking the season up into sections and trying to win every game first in non-region, then region play, and finally 3-0 in the playoffs.
“We never actually talked about being undefeated,” Jenks said. “We just kind of broke it up and went for it.”
Sky View’s season ends with an exciting run that simply fell short on the final step. Hannah Radford put up 36 points in the quarterfinal and hit a buzzer-beater to send the Bobcats into the championship game. Others on the team like Karlee Allen, Addey Merrill, Claire Fischer to name just a few, played well down the stretch to make this a special season for the Bobcats.
“I’m super proud of our girls,” Hall said. “This last couple of weeks to just fight and give it everything they had. I’m really proud of the way they played.”
Even with the loss, the Sky View program sits in a very solid place, having made the championship game two out of the last three seasons, winning it all back in 2021 with several of these same key players on that team.
“It’s not easy getting here,” Hall said. “It hurts right now but I hope these girls look back on this and realize how awesome it is that they’re gonna have a trophy with their name on it.”