Spartans blast past Yelm into quarterfinals

February 26, 2013

By Matt Massey

The last time the Skyline High School girls basketball team reached the state quarterfinals, Rachel Shim was a spectator as a sixth-grader.

The past three seasons, she was hampered by knee injuries, missing most of her sophomore year and playing with a brace as a junior.

This time, she made a difference.

By Greg Farrar Haley Smith, Skyline High School senior guard, puts up two of her 15 points during the second quarter of the Spartans’ state 4A basketball regional against Yelm Feb. 22 at Rogers High School in Puyallup.

By Greg Farrar
Haley Smith, Skyline High School senior guard, puts up two of her 15 points during the second quarter of the Spartans’ state 4A basketball regional against Yelm Feb. 22 at Rogers High School in Puyallup.

Shim helped fuel a second-half rally to propel the eighth-ranked Spartans past No. 10 Yelm, 61-48, in the Class 4A regionals Feb. 22 at Rogers High School.

Shim finished with 17 points, including 13 in the second half. Skyline (20-5) is in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2007 and just the third time in school history. The state tournament opens Feb. 28 at the Tacoma Dome.

“Oh my gosh, this is an amazing feeling,” said Shim, who also had five assists. “Just the fact that it’s my senior year, and I get to lead my team and end it this way, is great. I want to help make history for my school and leave a legacy.

“I haven’t been this happy in a long time.”

One more win will give the Spartans their best state finish and eclipse the 2007 squad’s seventh-place showing.

“Girls basketball at Skyline has come a long ways, and it’s been kind of a long time since we’ve been recognized and played at this level,” fifth-year coach Greg Bruns said.

Colorado-bound Haley Smith provided Skyline with 15 points — 10 in the first half — and seven rebounds despite playing most of the second in foul trouble.

The 6-foot-1 Smith and Yelm’s 6-1 Anushka Maldonado dueled much of the night inside. Maldonado had 13 points and six rebounds for the Tornadoes (20-5) before fouling out with 33.5 seconds to go.

Skyline trailed, 30-29, before Shim’s ball-hawking helped them go ahead with a 5-0 run.

“Rach is a bulldog, and you know you’re going to get that from her each and every game,” said Bruns, whose team forced Yelm into 18 turnovers. “She’s feisty and she showed it. She pushed back when they pushed her. She’s the key. We put her on their best guards.

“The pressure we put on guards over time just wears them down. We got two or three turnovers, and pretty soon the lead was 10.”

An 11-3 run near the end of the third quarter pushed Skyline’s lead to 45-35, and the Spartans hit 8 of 10 free throws over the final 1:31 minutes.

Lacey Nicholson added 11 points for Skyline.

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