Boys Basketball: Eagles land in the semifinals after long layoff, win over South Lyon

It’s been pretty obvious since day one that this Skyline boys’ basketball team is pretty special on and off the basketball court.

They seem to have a strong will and resolve that helps them overcome any challenge this challenging year wants to throw at them. After getting shut down for the second time because of the pandemic, the Eagles had one day of practice before opening District play on Tuesday.

No big deal for this bunch. And why should anyone be surprised.

Led by a talented group of seniors, the Eagles began the District playoffs with a 63-44 win over a strong South Lyon club on Tuesday at Dexter HS. Maybe these guys don’t need to practice at all? Actually, it’s more of a testament to how hard they work when they can practice.

“After our 10-day quarantine ended Sunday, we had a long practice on Monday and then played South Lyon, who really likes to push the ball and averaged about 62 points per game with a 10-4 record,” said Skyline Coach Mike Lovelace. “It was a huge challenging game coming of this long pause.

“Our energy was very good to start, but we had a lot of trouble converting shots in the paint and making shots early on.”

But that tenacious Skyline defense kept the Eagles in the ballgame as South Lyon failed to make a single three-pointer in the first half. South Lyon led a low-scoring first quarter 7-6.

Skyline had a five-point lead looking for the last shot of the first half and then had a turnover and South Lyon converted a layup to cut the lead to 20-17 at the break.

“The game was fairly fast paced in the first half with both teams struggling to score,” Lovelace said.

In the second half, the Eagles played even better half-court defense and did a good job in transition defense, pushing the ball and converting in their half-court offense to build a nice lead.

Skyline led 41-30 after three quarters.

“South Lyon started to press but our guys did a real good job of taking care of the ball and attacking the basket and we continued to extend our lead in the 2nd half and finished strong,” Lovelace said. “We ended up with very good scoring opportunities against their press with the great passing to find the open guy.”

“All our seniors played very well (Chris Cayton, Jack Williams, Dinalli DeLoach, Ashay Arora, Jermaine Davis, Cole Streeter),” Lovelace said.

The Eagles also got a “huge boost” from sophomore Jayden Potts who had 21 points, with most of them in the second half attacking the basket in the open court.

“He is very capable of that kind of scoring and is starting to understand varsity pace and what he is capable of with his incredible skill, body control and athleticism,” Lovelace said.

The longtime Skyline coach called it a “great team win.”

“Our players played to win and everyone put the team first and it was so great to see,” he said. “I am so proud of our guys for coming together like they did for that amazing game off a break. They are really coming together and playing team offense and defense which I am so happy to see. We have great kids!”

Skyline will play South Lyon East at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in the first District semifinal game at Dexter. According to the MHSAA web site, Pinckney had to forfeit its game with Dexter.

The finals are Saturday at Dexter.