Nate Jones had an eternity to think about how he’d finish off his latest steal Monday. But that particular disrupted passing lane result was more than padding the already-flush stat sheet or showboating in front of a packed Roy High School student section.
Jones had the opportunity to solidify an already-emotional day with an emphatic exclamation mark.
The Roy forward did when he threw down his third dunk of the afternoon, sending a signal to Class 4A basketball that the Royals are more than a one-man show. The dunk sent the Huntsman Center into a tizzy and capped what was a dramatic fourth quarter without star Brekkott Chapman.
“We were missing our big guy,” said Jones, who finished with 12 points, eight steals, five rebounds and four assists, “so somebody had to step up.”
The Royals, behind Jones, Chase DeBoer (17 points) and Cody Hobbs (17 points), who combined for 46 of the Royals’ 62 points, earned a trip to Wednesday’s 4A quarterfinals with the dramatic 62-60 win over Skyline. Roy played minus Chapman, a Utah commit, who was suspended for Monday’s first-round game due to a violation of team rules.
“I didn’t know how we would respond to the challenge emotionally and mentally,” said Roy coach Dan McClure, his voice hoarse from directing his team to a difficult victory. “To be down eight with four-and-a-half [minutes] left and to battle back, I told them we passed that test.”
The Royals found out Chapman, one of the premier players in Utah high school hoops, would miss the game against Skyline 10 minutes before boarding the bus bound for the Huntsman Center.
And Roy responded when its season was put on life support as Skyline took an eight-point lead into a timeout called for by McClure with more than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
DeBoer said the message in the huddle was either throw in the towel or fight back.
The Royals fought.
Jones, Hobbs, DeBoer, along with Blake Lamb and Dakota Nalder, sunk crucial free throws in the final three minutes. Jones scored five straight points for the Royals to give them a 55-51 lead with 58.8 seconds remaining, capped by his loud one-handed slam.
“It’s unreal,” Jones said.
In fact, it was very real. Roy, coming off its first region title in 20 years, handled the emotion of losing its star the morning of the 4A tournament to live to fight another day. That will come Wednesday night at the Huntsman Center, and McClure said his deadline for possibly reinstating Chapman will come “sometime before tip.”
But DeBoer’s taking the optimistic outlook ahead of Wednesday’s 4A quarterfinals.
“I love Brekkott like a brother, so it was tough to see him not out there with us, too,” he said. “We just have to win the next round, get Brekkott back and our goal remains a state championship.”
Roy 62, Skyline 60
• Roy advances to the 4A quarterfinals in a win without star Brekkott Chapman, who was suspended for violation of team rules.
• Chase DeBoer, Nate Jones and Cody Hobbs combine to score 46 of Roy’s 62 points. Jones also had eight steals.
• Roy coach Dan McClure said Chapman’s status for the 4A quarterfinal Wednesday remains up in the air.