Sierra defense snows over Skyview for 24-point victory
Tuesday's first-round 4A playoff game at Sierra was delayed 40 minutes, as visiting Skyview struggled through the snow and the slow, erratic traffic that accompanied it, all the way from Thornton.
For Sierra fans, the wait was worth it.
Sierra's baseline-to-baseline trapping defense had 20 steals and the Stallions dominated inside to run away with a 70-46 victory.
“In our defense, we try to trap the high and low corners,” Sierra's Selina Barnes said. “When we trap, we have to make sure we rotate to the next pass so we can get the steal.”
They made those rotations with impressive regularity. Barnes, TaLeeza Earls and Nadirah Oakman each had five steals, as Sierra kept Skyview perplexed. On top of the steals, there were numerous out-of-bounds passes and traveling calls due to the relentless pressure.
“We take pride in our traps,” Sierra coach Joseph Williams said. “We can go half-court or full-court, depending upon how they're handling the ball and how they're picking it up.”
Sierra's post tandem of Rebecca Cross and Kanecia Cooks combined for 23 points, 24 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
“Our bigs controlled the inside tremendously tonight with the rebounding and blocks,” Williams said.
Cross led Sierra with 17 points and also had 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Cooks had a game-high 13 rebounds and five blocks to go along with her six points.
The Stallions, the sixth seed in the Tanya Haave Region in the 48-team field, advanced to face No. 3 Thompson Valley on Friday. A win there would put Sierra into the round of 16 for the second consecutive season and the fourth time in the past six years.
Skyview came into Tuesday's game allowing opponents a stingy 37.6 points per game. Sierra had exceeded that by halftime.
Behind steals and four first-quarter blocked shots, Sierra raced to an 11-2 lead and ended the first quarter up 20-8.
The gap widened as the Stallions scored 10 of the second quarter's first 12 points. Skyview rallied late, outscoring Sierra 10-5 over the final 2 minutes but still went to the intermission down 39-22.
Sierra dominated after the half, increasing the lead to 68-35 before emptying the bench with just over 3 minutes remaining.
“We came out hard tonight,” Williams said. “We got a little sloppy toward halftime with some silly fouls, but we picked it back up in the third quarter.”
That, too, was worth waiting for.