Prep boys basketball • The defending Class 1 A state champs started the season 0-5.
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Layton • Preston Sill glided confidently across the court, and when he reached his destination, spit out his words with precision.
The Layton Christian Academy guard was emphatic the 0-5 Eagles are much better than their record shows.
"Our record doesn't reflect how good we are," Sill said. "We should be beating all these teams. It's not that they're a better team than us it's they've had more time, we believe, in the gym, and they've been playing together forever."
One of the major challenges the Eagles face playing at a private school is the constant influx of new players from season to season. This year, the Eagles are without their six top scorers from last season, and it takes time to adjust to playing with a lineup full of unfamiliarity.
"We just know we're better than we are playing," Sill said. "This is a lot of new guys. When you throw new guys in, it's going to take time to get used to it. As long as we keep doing what our coaches say, we'll be all right."
Overcoming slow starts is nothing new for the Eagles. Last season, they started off 1-6 before turning it around halfway through the season. The Eagles eventually hoisted the Class 1A trophy after winning 12 of their final 13 games.
"You don't know who's coming in, and you don't know who's going out every year," said Eagles coach Bobby Porter, who's coached at LCA for 11 years. "So what happens is our record at the beginning of the season isn't any indication of our record at the end of the season. You have to make young people learn how to trust each other."
Porter said the team typically begins to come together around the middle of January, and he sees in this year's team the framework for another run through the state tournament.
"I enjoy the challenge," Porter said. "Watching young people look like an ugly duckling at first, and then all of a sudden be a beautiful swan at the end is great. It's about the journey."
Playing a tough schedule early expedites the process for the Eagles. Though Sill insists the Eagles have been better than the teams they've played, there's no question they've had a difficult slate so far. They've played defending Class 2A champion South Sevier, last year's Class 2A semifinalist South Summit as well as Class 4A Roy and Class 5A Fremont.
"It definitely makes young people more coachable and humble, realizing how they have to depend on each other rather than playing teams that are cupcakes and cause you to believe you're better than you are," Porter said. "I think that's really important."
Sill can see the payoff for the Eagles' hard work and the tough schedule they've played. It's only a matter of time, he says, until the Eagles are playing to their potential.
"I think we're pretty close," Sill said. "A couple weeks is all it's going to take."