ROY — Roy High’s girls basketball team last won a game on Feb. 9, 2018, a 52-50 home thriller over Viewmont that clinched the Royals a share of the Region 5 championship.
The Royals would lose the last two of that season, then they toiled through a winless 2018-19 campaign with a young team, coming close a few times, but ultimately ending up 0-20.
So it changed the goal for the 2019-20 season opener, where in years past, Roy head coach Carolyn DeHoff would want to exclusively focus on the process for the team, with a win or loss not as important.
“We wanted it bad, we’ve been talking about it since last spring,” Roy sophomore Sha’Keria Joiner said.
Joiner’s 3-pointer from the left wing with three seconds left secured a 49-46 win for Roy (1-0) over Ogden (0-1) on Tuesday night, a win well worth the wait for a team that had to wait nine months from the end of last season to try again.
With 13.1 seconds left in what became a back-and-forth final two minutes of the game, Joiner’s twin sister Sha’Kyra Joiner dribbled into the paint, kicked the ball out to Sha’Keria and was soon celebrating with the rest of the team on the floor.
It completed a gritty contest that saw both teams take sizable leads at times, not because of veins of hot shooting or expertly run set plays, but because of hustle plays — the things coaches say all the time how much they love to see.
Things like diving for loose balls and getting a jump ball call, fighting through screens to disrupt another team’s offensive rhythm.
“That’s what I think got us the lead early in the game ... when we needed them, that’s what our kids did,” DeHoff said.
Trailing 40-39 with 2 1/2 minutes left, the defensive effort paid off for Roy. Sha’Kyra Joiner, who scored 14 points, got a steal off Roy’s aggressive press and passed to Sha’Keria, who led all scorers with 19, for a layup.
Sha’Kyra Joiner grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer, turned and made a putback off the glass for a 41-40 lead with 2:09 left.
Kate Lowry’s open layup gave the Tigers the lead right back, but Roy took it back on Autumn Litster’s 3-pointer.
Ogden tied it with two Caitlin Richardson free throws.
Roy senior Bailey Hill hit a baseline jumper to give the Royals the lead again, which the Tigers took back again on two free throws from Ashlen White, who got the chance to shoot the free throws because she rebounded her own missed shot.
But it left 13.1 seconds on the clock, enough time for Sha’Kyra Joiner to drive from the top of the key, draw three defenders and kick it out to Sha’Keria for the game-winning shot.
“They needed that win. We’ve done some things this spring and summer and they’ve seen success, but those don’t count and so I really wanted these kids to get a win,” DeHoff said.
At first glance, both teams were miles ahead of where they were in last year’s season opener.
Roy took an 18-12 lead at one point of the second quarter after Sha’Kyra Joiner dribbled the ball full court right through Ogden’s press, then kicked it out to Sha’Keria Joiner for an open 3-pointer.
Ogden countered to take a 25-24 lead at the break with some help from the aforementioned hustle plays.
An offensive rebound made its way to Juliann Stein, who drained a midrange jumper to cut the lead to 21-17.
Ogden freshman Ashley Christensen, who scored nine of her 12 points in the first half, scored on an offensive rebound putback to tie it at 23.
Richardson, who co-led Ogden with 12 points, sank two free throws at the end of the half for the Tigers.
Ogden bumped its lead to 38-30 late in the third, meaning Roy closed the game on a 19-8 run thanks in part to a buzz zone defense that threw Ogden off its wavelength.
There was still plenty for Ogden head coach Wesley Padilla to like.
“The press was looking pretty good, we dictated a lot of what they did and I felt like the hustle was there, the last shot just wasn’t in our favor,” he said.