In tournament sports, peaking at the right time is everything.
The 2019-20 Skyline boys’ basketball team is doing more than peaking – it’s surging. Skyline punched its ticket to the District finals with a 42-35 playoff win on Wednesday night over a strong Dexter team at Brighton HS. It was Skyline’s fourth straight win and seventh in its last eight games.
The Eagles (16-6) will take on South Lyon East (15-7) on Friday, who emerged victorious in its District semifinal match with South Lyon, 51-48. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. at Brighton High School.
Skyline head coach Mike Lovelace said the team has been gaining confidence with each victory.
“Winning tournament games keeps giving a team confidence,” Lovelace said. “Once you get past the first couple games, everybody’s playing with a lot of confidence. Every game is really tough, and you have to internalize that confidence and make it show up on the court.”
Skyline senior Kabir Bergin was a dominant force in the paint, scoring a team-high 13 points.
“He’s [Bergin] got quite a few moves,” Lovelace said. “When we get him the ball when he’s open, good things happen.”
Skyline, however, came out struggling out of the gate. After Skyline’s Dinalli DeLoach scored the game’s first points with a layup, Dexter held them off the scoreboard for nearly 5 minutes, amassing a 9-2 lead on the strength of three three-pointers.
“Both teams really went at it, and they had us stopped at the start of the game,” Lovelace said. “We were taking some shots that we shouldn’t have, and they converted some threes and got some confidence early, and I knew that it was going to a battle from then on. It took us about two or three real nice spurts during the game to get it at the end.”
Skyline responded with a nice spurt, an 8-1 run into the second quarter to tie the match, including a basket from Bergin and a dunk from DeLoach coming off a Dexter turnover.
Dexter answered with five quick points, but Skyline had another spurt up its sleeve, this time a 9-1 run. The Eagles scored three times in the final minute, including a floater at the buzzer from Ashay Arora, giving Skyline a 19-16 halftime lead.
Skyline opened the game up a bit with a 7-2 run to start the second half, including a deep three-pointer from point guard Chris Cayton, who scored seven points for the Eagles.
Dexter, however, wasn’t about to go quietly. The Dreadnaughts hit three three-pointers in the final minutes of the third quarter, closing the Eagles’ lead to 30-29 heading into the final quarter. It was anyone’s game at that point.
After Dexter’s Colin Parachek, who led all players with 17 points for the game, hit another three to close Skyline’s lead to 34-32 in the fourth quarter, the Eagles’ defense went into full lock-down mode, keeping Dexter off the scoreboard for over 5 minutes.
Skyline, however, was unable to build a big lead, mostly thanks to missed opportunities at the free-throw line and strong Dexter defense. Parachek hit a three with just over a minute left to pull Dexter within a basket.
Skyline’s Jack Williams made four points from the stripe in the final minute to put the game away.
Bobby Pnacek hit three triples in the game and finished with 10 points for Dexter. Cal Bavineau and Marco Luchessi each hit a three-pointer for the Dreadnaughts.
Skyline’s Ashay Arora had eight points for the Eagles.
Dexter finished a solid year under first-year head coach Jason Rushton. The young and talented Dreadnaughts went 13-7 overall and 8-6 in the tough SEC White Division.