LAYTON — Make it eight — and this isn’t talking about how much snow fell on Layton Christian’s campus on Tuesday or the amount of rugby players who were practicing on the auditorium floor mere minutes after the basketball game ended.
This is the number that best describes, in a short and concise manner, how Layton Christian’s boys basketball team has dominated every region it’s been in for nearly a decade.
The Eagles (17-6, 9-0 Region 16) are now winners of eight straight region championships, either shared or outright, after a relatively straightforward 120-81 win over St. Joseph on Tuesday night. On Senior Night, no less, one player called it a “blessing” to win in front of the home crowd.
“It feels good, but the mission’s not over yet,” head coach Bobby Porter said. “The region is nice, but it’s not the state (title).
LCA’s record in region games in its eight-season span of dominance is now 76-1.
Like any team, their ultimate goal is a state championship, which eluded LCA last year — the memory of which hasn’t been forgotten.
“For sure it’s fueled us. We think about it makes us want to train harder, beat teams by more, hit different angles so we don’t get caught off-guard like we did against Beaver,” senior guard Sam Muller said.
The Eagles clinched at least a share of the region title Tuesday and will have a chance to clinch it outright Friday at second-place North Summit, the only other team who can mathematically clinch a share of the region.
While most LCA region games are far from competitive, this one was close for the first couple minutes when the Eagles led 10-7, using a quick succession of steals and layups countered by seven points from St. Joseph guard Sayveon Armstrong.
And then, well...
Jesus Tomasi got a layup and made a technical foul free throw. Lino Saez got a bucket underneath. Tomasi made another layup and Sam Muller knocked in consecutive 3-pointers.
All of this happened in about a minute and change and, when Armstrong hit a jumper, it was 23-9 with around four minutes left in the quarter. LCA scored 35 points in the first quarter and had a 60-35 halftime lead using virtually its whole bench.
It quickly turned from a matter of who would win the game to whether the Eagles would break the 100-point mark before the end of the third quarter. For the record, Sam Muller’s 3-pointer from Steph Curry range with 7:00 left in the fourth made it 100-61.
Armstrong, a quick and laser-sighted shooter, was the sole resistance the Jayhawks could muster at times to the Eagles machine. He ended the game with 36 points. Stockton Buckway scored 13 and Gavin Andersen had 10 for St. Joseph.
“It feels good to win against a good St. Joe’s team that keeps coming at you. It was the kind of game we wanted to play, so I’m really happy with that, I’m happy that there’s no injuries, I’m happy that tomorrow’s another work day,” Porter said.
Muller led the Eagles with 27 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, and Saez had 18 of his 24 in the first half to go with 12 rebounds and six assists. Tomasi scored 16 points and Micah Petty added 15 as part of a balanced effort.
Nearly every LCA scoring blitz was a parade of quick steals and layups. The Eagles had 18 steals, made 47 of their 89 shots and assisted on 31 of the 47 made baskets.
When they didn’t score on a runout, they tossed it inside to Saez — the 6-foot-8 Chilean forward who played for his country last summer in the FIBA U-18 World Championships in Canada — for pretty easy buckets.
That’s how they practice: up-tempo with a surge of motivation stemming from last year’s state tournament loss. All around the state, it follows LCA like a bug that won’t go away, like the proverbial monkey on their back.
So there’s only one thing for the Eagles to do to get rid of it.
“They’re not going to let it die until we make it die,” Porter said.