KNOXVILLE — The Royals Basketball Team practiced Wednesday evening in preparation for their regional match-up tonight at home against Piedmont International University. Head Coach Brandon Perry huddled his players up following practice, encouraging them to finish strong as they prepare for the postseason.
“We cannot falter right now,” Perry told the team. “We cannot slip up.”
Although the Royals currently rank seventh in the nation for NCCAA D2 with a 6-1 region record, recently released power rankings put them just under Kentucky Christian University. These rankings affect their seeding at the upcoming Mideast Regional Tournament.
Following tonight’s battle, the Royals stay at home on Saturday for Mideast opponent Boyce College before traveling to Louisville, Ky. to face them again on Monday. Perry sees these three games as a chance to increase the team’s power ranking and grab a top seed heading into the region tournament Feb. 25 at Boyce.
Coming off a comeback win against Crown College Tuesday night, Perry credits his team’s tenacity as a driving factor in their success this season. The Royals struggled shooting Tuesday, but out-rebounded Crown 58-20, overcoming a ten point deficit to win 97-80.
“We didn’t shoot the ball like we normally shoot the ball,” Perry said. “The big thing for us was perseverance.”
Junior center Gunner St. John, who tallied 11 rebounds in the game against Crown, said playing with an aggressive mindset will be crucial in the match-up against Piedmont.
“I think rebounds are definitely important,” St. John said. “Our offense will come, because we’re an offensive team.”
Perry has confidence in his team on both sides of the court as the year comes to a close. He said his goal in practice is for the team to maintain what it has already established.
“Right now it’s the end of the year. Our goal is just don’t get hurt at this point,” Perry said. “Just kind of reminding ourselves of the things we’ve been doing.”
Perry rests assured in the foundation he has built for his team.
“I think we just need to be who we are,” Perry said.
The Royals will tip off against Piedmont tonight at 7 p.m.