Roy girls basketball coach Brock Randall stood at the center of the court toward the end of a midweek practice, and his deep voice bellowed through the gym, delivering a clear message to his team.
Despite the injuries that have piled up for the Royals, and some of the losses that have followed, Randall assured his team that he still was a believer. He wanted them to know their goal hadn’t changed.
"I’m a little biased, but this team is explosive, and we have a lot of capability," Randall said. "Our main goal when we play is to be in a position to compete in every game we play and have an opportunity to win that game, regardless of who it is against."
Glimpses of what Roy is capable of have shined through this season, as the Royals have shown that explosiveness at times. But a tough schedule and a streak of injuries have taken their toll on the Royals, who are struggling to keep up with the top tier of teams in Region 5.
The Royals finished 2-3 in the first half of their region schedule and lost by 18 points to both Bonneville and Sky View, who so far have proven themselves as the cream of the crop in Region 5. Still, the Royals think they have what it takes to compete with the top talent in the state.
"It’s unrealistic to say we’re going to go undefeated and win a championship," Randall said. "But you can set a goal to be in position to win every game you play, and I have a lot of belief in this team to be able to accomplish that."
The Royals showed against Bonneville that they could play with the Lakers in spurts. The Royals went on a 12-0 run at one point to cut a 16-point deficit to four points in the second half. But the challenge is turning those good stretches of play into a full 32 minutes.
"I think our No. 1 thing is defense," junior forward Whitney Hatch said. "We have to break down other teams and play hard. If we can do that, we can do just about anything. ... Offense will come, but our defense has got to work."
Though they do not have the depth of some of the top teams in the state, the Royals have talent. Junior guard Kaitlyn Hurley is one of the top scorers in the state (19.7 points per game), and Jordynn Barrera (9.8), Hatch (8.7) and Jaden Whaley (7.1) give the up-tempo Royals a formidable scoring attack.
Unfortunately for the Royals, they’ve seldom had their full arsenal at their disposal, dealing with myriad injuries to several key players. The latest blow came when Barrera was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, and it’s uncertain whether the senior leader will return by the end of the season.
"We’ve had three practices where we’ve actually had our full squad to play," Randall said. "So we’ve definitely been through the ringer. I appreciate their efforts because no matter what I ask them to do, they come through and do it."
With Barrera injured, the road to the playoffs won’t be easy for the Royals. But if they get there, they will be seasoned and ready for whatever they face.
"Our region definitely prepares us for what we’re going to see," Hurley said. "Every day is a tough game, and it’s fun. We want to get to state, and we’re going to play to get there."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.