ROY — From the opening day of practice last fall, Roy coach Dan McClure talked with his players about the opportunity in front of them to win the school’s first boys basketball region title since 1994.
It’s something the players embraced with passion, and now the 20-year wait is nearly over.
The Royals backed up Wednesday’s big win over Box Elder with another impressive win Friday night, dispatching Logan 60-51 to remain two games in front of the Region 5 pack with five games remaining.
“Last year we talked about making it to the state tournament, which we did. But this year, Day 1 it was region championship, and guys are getting excited,” said McClure.
Barring a big collapse over the final few weeks of the season, that two-decade drought is poised to come to an end — just don’t expect it to look pretty.
“We’ve won some ugly games,” said McClure, who quickly added, “and this group has figured out how to win those kind of games.”
Friday’s victory over Logan was no different. Roy turned it over 18 times against Logan’s pressure defense and missed numerous free throws in the fourth quarter, but still got the job done thanks to outstanding defense and some clutch shooting, including eight 3-pointers.
“It’s kind of been that we’ve just had ugly wins lately, and we’ve learned to fight through all those turnovers,” said Ute commit Brekkott Chapman, who finished with 14 points for Roy.
With the game level at 47-47 with 5:33 remaining, Roy held Logan to just 2-of-12 shooting the rest of the way to finish the game on a 13-4 run. It was only fitting the Royals wrapped things up defensively — after all, it was the theme all week.
Heading into the week, McClure admitted he was nervous about the prospect of facing two of 4A’s best shooters two nights apart, but it ended up paying off.
On Wednesday Roy beat Box Elder by holding Shad Watson below his season average and not allowing a 3-pointer even though he had 43 on the season. On Friday, Roy’s defense limited Logan’s Tyler Brimhall — the third-leading scorer in 4A — to just 10 points and no 3-pointers.
“I wasn’t thrilled going Box Elder, one day off and then Logan but it actually did us a little bit of a favor 'cause we spent quite a bit of time prepping for Shad Watson,” said McClure. “We took that game plan and said, 'Tonight it’s Tyler Brimhall.' We tried to treat him a lot like Shad. We did just such a phenomenal job on Shad the other night there was definitely some carryover for that prep.”
Every shot Brimhall took around the perimeter was contested. The extra attention, however, created opportunities for others, and Jaxton Andersen took advantage as he scored a career-high 28 points.
On another night his heroics might’ve been enough to pull of the road upset, but Roy’s Chase DeBoer and Dakota Nalder each knocked down three 3-pointers, all seemingly coming at critical moments, to quell Logan's rallies.
Cody Hobbs also hit a big 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give Roy the lead for good.
“If we’re going to have multiple guys hitting multiple 3s that makes us really hard to guard us,” said McClure.
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