MERIDIAN - Is it how you start, or how you finish, that matters most?
For the Skyview girls basketball team, the answer Thursday night was "both." And while there were some nervous moments in between, the Hawks' opening surge and confident closeout were enough to produce a 49-37 victory over Burley in the opening round of the 4A state tournament at Mountain View High.
Senior guard Bailey Pasta scored 15 points - including three 3-pointers in a scorching-hot first quarter - and fellow senior Leah Bonner added 12 as the top-ranked Hawks (23-1) overcame a bumpy middle two quarters and won their 23rd consecutive game.
"We definitely had a great start, but then we got into foul trouble," Skyview coach Cindy Pasta said. "That kind of changed the pace of the game, but luckily I have a deep bench. I played 11 kids tonight, and they all really stepped up and made a difference for our team."
Skyview jumped out to an 18-7 first-quarter lead behind the hot shooting of Bailey Pasta and junior guard Jordan Hansen, who chipped in 10 points off the bench. But when starting posts Bonner and Kayla Turcato got into foul trouble, the Hawks offense sputtered, scoring just 15 points in the second and third quarters combined.
Skyview maintained a lead - though not the comfortable type the Hawks have grown accustomed to - thanks to a defense that forced 23 turnovers and limited Burley (15-10) to 29 percent shooting. Bonner and Turcato returned to the floor down the stretch, and the Hawks sank 11-of-15 free throws to put the game away.
"This tournament is the best of the best," Bailey Pasta said.
Next up for Skyview is an 8 p.m. semifinal date with Pocatello on Friday. The Indians (14-10) were impressive Thursday, displaying strong inside play and physicality in a 51-34 win over Sandpoint.
MIDDLETON 35, CENTURY 32
D'Rae Tullock scored a game-high 15 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for the Vikings, who led by as many as 13 points.
Allison Cossins added 11 points and six rebounds in the first-round win.
Middleton (17-7) will take on Twin Falls (22-2) in the semifinals at 6:15 p.m. Friday. The Vikings are seeking their fifth state title in seven seasons.
POCATELLO 51, SANDPOINT 34
Senior post Heather Waldemar scored 17 points and junior guard Carly Parker added 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals as Pocatello rolled into the state semifinals.
Pocatello outscored Sandpoint 15-4 in the third quarter to seize command of the game. The Indians exploited their across-the-board height advantage over the Bulldogs, enjoying a 44-36 edge in total rebounds scoring 20 second-chance points.
Senior guard Hailey Olin had 15 points and eight rebounds for Sandpoint, which is playing in its first state tournament since 2004.
TWIN FALLS 43, NAMPA 42
Macy Urrutia hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Twin Falls to a remarkable comeback victory. Those were Urrutia's only points of the game.
Twin Falls outscored the Bulldogs 15-3 in the fourth quarter. Nampa made just 8-of-22 second-half free-throw attempts, aiding the Twin Falls' rally.
Nampa made 10-of-13 field goals in the first half and all five free throws. But the hot shooting went cold in the second half. Danielle Jardine led Nampa with 12 points and 14 rebounds.