The Skyview boys basketball team’s shouts of “2-0” echoed throughout the hallway outside of the team locker room late Tuesday night.
Their undefeated record was all that mattered after the Storm defeated Prairie 57-52 at Skyview High School via a flurry of blocked shots, fast break points and free throws late in the game.
A perfect outing by the Storm? Hardly.
Enough to win? Absolutely.
“I’m definitely confident in how we played down the stretch,” Skyview coach Matt Gruhler said. “What led to us getting there, we have a lot to clean up.
“But it feels good. … Tonight felt like a playoff game.”
Prairie led by two at half, and the game was tied after three quarters.
The Falcons forced a turnover after double-teaming Alex Schumacher in the corner, and fed Heitschmidt, who hit a wide open 3-pointer in transition to cut the Skyview lead to two with less than a minute to play.
With just over 30 seconds left, Skyview threw away an inbounds pass and Heitschmidt blew past two Storm defenders to get what he thought was a good look at a game-tying layup.
But Hector drifted under the basket, rose and swatted the shot the other way to Grossman who was fouled on the fast break. He then hit two free throws — his first two makes of the game in seven attempts — to make it a two-possession game.
On Prairie’s last possession, Hector stepped up and made a game-sealing block.
“We responded well,” Hector said of Prairie’s late-game push. “Any pressure is good. We can overcome a lot in crunch time. It didn’t really bother us.”
Schumacher, a junior guard, led the Storm with 22 points, which included three 3s and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. Grossman added 17 points, and was a focal point of the second-half offense as Skyview adjusted to play to its size advantage.
“Credit to our guards, those guys got it to (the bigs),” Gruhler said. “And those guys did what they’re supposed to do, which is use their athleticism and length.”
Skyview’s 19 turnovers and 21 percent shooting from deep, along with a string of mental errors left Gruhler’s team with spots to improve. But “when it mattered, our guys made the right plays down the stretch.”
Heitschmidt led all scorers with 23 points on six 3-pointers for Prairie and Kam Osborn pitched in 10 points.
Prairie had a chance to tie with three minutes left in the fourth after grabbing an offensive board. But a 3-pointer sailed long, Grossman grabbed the rebound, heaved the ball down court to an open Schumacher, whose down a two-handed dunk sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
“First dunk of the season,” Schumacher said. “I liked it, feels good.”
The Storm’s largest lead came midway through the third when they led 34-27. It was quickly dissipated. Heitschmidt hit a high-arching, highly-contested 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to pull Prairie within four.
On the next possession, Osborn finished a three-point play in traffic to pull the Falcons within one, setting up the push that locked the teams at 38 apiece going into the fourth.
But when it came down to crunch time, Skyview’s size was too much. Samaad Hector even went as far to put the state on notice about the Storm’s bigs.
“No team is stopping us,” he said. “We established that last season, but got stopped short in the playoffs. I don’t think anybody is stopping us this season.”
SKYVIEW 57, PRAIRIE 52
PRAIRIE — Dante Heitschmidt 23, Kam Osborn 10, Braiden Broadbent 6, Matthew Kogler 1, Logan Reed 3, Kaleb Locke 3, AJ Dixson 4, Nate Millspaugh 2, Zeke Dixson 0. 17 (10) 8-12 52
SKYVIEW — Alex Schumacher 22, Cole Grossman 17, Jovan Sewell 2, Samaad Hector 13, Jacoby Thompson 0, Squeeky Johnson 3, Lowell Dunmire 0, Chris Webster 0, KB Fesehazion 2 Jace Chatman 0. 18 (4) 10-22 57.
Prairie 15 10 13 14 — 52
Skyview 15 8 15 19 — 57
JV — Skyview 54, Prairie 50.