CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock’s high-intensity defense did not leave many openings Thursday night in Charlottesville, but when they finally did, Hauser took advantage.
The Royals brought the Jets’ offense — the third highest-scoring group in the Mid-Hoosier Conference (60.5 ppg) — to a halt in the second quarter, holding them to just five points. But Hauser exploded out of the half, posting 18 and turning a halftime deficit into a 36-31 lead to heading in the final quarter.
From there, poor shooting and uncharacteristic turnover troubles plagued the Royals, as their late comeback efforts came up short and doomed them to a 51-45 defeat.
“In the second half, we just turned the ball over too much. It was just that simple,” said Eastern Hancock coach Aaron Spaulding, whose team totaled 11 giveaways in the second half. “You can’t give those kind of opportunities to a team like Hauser.”
The Royals (8-10, 2-4 MHC) protected the ball well in the first half, a key to keeping the game within reach. Despite shooting just 25 percent from the field, Eastern Hancock had just four turnovers, while forcing the Jets into 15.
The lack of opportunities for the Jets were enough for Cole Fout and company to hold the Jets close. Fout delivered six points in the first half to the lead the Royals, as Addison True and Logan Splater each chipped in four to give the Royals a slim 19-18 lead at the break.
“They frustrated us,” Hauser (11-8, 7-1 MHC) head coach Bob Nobbe said. “I could see some of that frustration out on the floor, so at halftime we just talked about confidence and taking good shots. I thought we did a better job of that in the second half.”
They did, and they turned the tables on Eastern Hancock in the turnover battle, giving the ball away just seven times in the second half, while shooting 8-of-12 from the field.
Zach Johnson and Quindon Shipley led the way for the Jets in the quarter with six points apiece. Each only missed one shot.
Johnson finished the game with 10 points. Shipley closed out the game with eight, and Rory Thayer finished as the leading scorer with 12 points and picked up four rebounds.
The key to the Jets’ success, Nobbe said, was the pressure they applied to the Royals in the form of a full-court press, which flustered Eastern Hancock and forced the team into mistakes.
“It took a while to get acclimated to that press,” Spaulding said. “After a while, we got acclimated to it and got some easy baskets, but they had already taken a lead from that, and it was too little too late.”
In the final quarter, the Jets stretched the lead to as many 11, while the Royals went more than three minutes without a bucket. Eastern Hancock missed 10 shots in the quarter.
They concluded the game shooting a meager 28 percent from the field, their fifth lowest output of the season.
Fout finished the game as the Royals’ leader with 18 points on 4-7 shooting from beyond the arc. True kicked in 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Cooper Henderson topped the Royals in assists with six.
Notes: Hauser entered Thursday as one of just three MHC teams averaging more than 60 points per game. … Eastern Hancock plays against Saturday at conference-leading Indian Creek (11-5,5-0 MHC). … The Eastern Hancock JV boys team fell to Hauser 54-45 Thursday night. For the Royals, Jarrett Lewis and Tyler Blattner each scored 11 points. A.J. Muegge had 10.
Sullivan takes place in Eastern Hancock Hall
Eastern Hancock 1970 graduate Gary Sullivan was originally slated to be formally inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday, but he requested that no official ceremony take place. A plaque honoring his achievements will be placed at the school among other Hall of Fame honorees.
Sullivan is the only baseball player in school history with two no-hitters. His first no-hitter was against Hancock Central in 1969, the same year he led the Royals to a Big Blue River Conference co-championship with a 10-2 record.
Sullivan also earned three varsity letters in basketball, and was all-conference as a junior and senior. Sullivan was a member of the 1968 sectional championship team that was elected to the Eastern Hancock Hall of Fame in 2013.
Sullivan was the starting quarterback his senior year for the first football team in Eastern Hancock history.