34 and 30 points in back to back wins by junior guard. Photo by Lyn Golden
by Tom Marshall
Steph Curry has two game stretches like this. High School players dream of one game like this in their career. 34 points in a tightly contested varsity girls basketball game is a respectable point total for a team. There’s only 32 minutes in these games and defense at the high school level is suffocating. Skyler Knight accomplished the improbable.
The Ventura High School junior guard poured in 34 and 30 points in back to back wins over Oxnard and Dos Pueblos. She pulled off this offensive feat while playing her brand of smart, relentless defense. Skyler set the Ventura High single game record for 3 pointers in the game at Oxnard High with eight behind the arc buckets. Her team needed both wins to lock up the league championship and she delivered the goods. Two road games in three days. 64 points in 64 minutes of competitive late season high school basketball.
The vibe inside the Oxnard High gym during Ventura’s 63-57 win reached Christmas morning as a 6-year-old levels. Both squads refused to give in and the crowd could feel the collective desire to win. “Setting the VHS single game record for 3s in that win is my favorite moment playing basketball,” Skyler said. That exciting win could only be celebrated for an evening as the team had to prepare for a trip up the coast and a game against Dos Pueblos 2 days later. A win there would lock up the league title for the Cougars. Skyler dropped 30 points for an encore in a 57-42 win.
Clutch is an overused word when describing athletic achievements. It implies an athlete has ice in their veins or doesn’t and disregards the work an individual must put in to have the confidence and will to take the big shots. “Repetition and hard work give me confidence during games. There is always room to improve,” Ventura’s points leader said. Shooters shoot is another phrase that is often overused and misunderstood. Players need to feel their coach’s support and confidence in them. “I missed my first 5 shots in a game and Coach Larson told me to keep shooting,” recalled Skyler. Hard work and repetition builds confidence. A coach’s unwavering support, confidence, and an excitable crowd during a tight game will bring out clutch moments in the great ones.
Every high school athlete dreams up an ideal athletic senior year by the end of their freshman year. Skyler’s response didn’t surprise me but it did offer insight into her team first mentality, “My ideal senior year includes going undefeated in league, maintaining and improving our great team relationship, and a few offers to play college basketball.” There’s wisdom in that statement. Winning teams always have good players but the most talented team doesn’t always win. The best team wins.
Ventura fielded a relatively young team this season and should be a major force next year. Skyler Knight has another year to go in her Ventura High basketball career but she has already left her mark on the school’s record books.