Skjold shines in tough matchups
Aaron Walling / Sun Star
Kaillee Skjold came to UAF during the fall semester of 2013 to be part of the Alaska Nanooks women’s basketball team. Jump forward three years and you’ll see the star power that Skjold brings to the team after the 70-61 win over the Central Washington Wildcats where she scored 25 points.
Some fans predicted the Nanooks would lose Against Central Washington because the Wildcats held teams to a low 53.4 points per game. They held the second-best defense in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. What were the Nanooks supposed to do?
They turned to Skjold and Jordan Wilson to lead them to an upset over the Wildcats in stunning fashion, with a dominating defense and a surprising burst of offense from Skjold. This put the Nanooks in the best position to win the game because they did not allow the Wildcats to pull away in the second and third quarter.
Skjold exploded for 8 points in a row in the fourth quarter to put the Nanooks up on the Wildcats and they never looked back. The tandem of Skjold and Wilson scored 47 points combined and both have made a powerful one-two punch to see if they can break the GNAC next season.
Head Coach Cody Bench mentioned the Nanooks stuck to the game plan. That game plan must have included the behind-the-scenes passes for the Wildcats’ defense that set up both Skjold and Wilson to dominate the paint against the taller, slower opponents.
“I thought Central had a solid game plan tonight, which was to go to their post, and I think we did a great job in defending them,” Bench said. “We stopped their inside game, especially in the second half. Our team stuck to our game plan, stayed positive and that was a great step in the right direction.”
That’s the better point for this Nanooks team, because they need to be taking steps in the right direction after NCAA violations. A team that can’t play in the post-season may think they have nothing to play for, but this team doesn’t view that way.
The team has bought into fighting till the end—fighting for each other. In their other game against Northwest Nazarene, they lost 78-74, but they also saw their bench come up huge with both Cassi Williams knocking down four three-pointers and McClain Williams controlling the point, who also knocked down some three-pointers.
This will be the final season for a lot of contributors on this squad. Kaille Skjold plays all-around, Jordan Wilson dominates in the paint, Jaylee Mays plays aggressively on defense and all 3 provide the Nanooks the important parts of the game with defense, free-throw shooting and passing the ball well.
In terms of how this team will be next season, only time will tell. But for now, the jigsaw pieces are starting to come together in what could be the Nanooks’ first berth into the GNAC tournament.