For The Daily Reporter
MIDDLETOWN — For the past 15 years, it would be safe to assume the Eastern Hancock girls basketball program envied Shenandoah. With two state championships and four state finals appearances, it was tough to not notice what was going on just 19 miles away.
However, on this Friday night, the Royals picked up a 48-29 victory against the Raiders behind a stellar defensive effort. The victory is Eastern Hancock’s second over Shenandoah in eighteen tries since 2000.
“I asked the girls before the game if this was a rival, and they all said yes,” first-year Eastern Hancock head coach Shari Doud said afterwards.
Shenandoah certainly seemed to start the game as if they were facing a rival, as they raced out to a 12-6 lead after the first quarter behind seven points from junior guard Breanna Deyoung.
“I was concerned about our start out of the gate,” Doud stated. “They certainly played with more heart there at the beginning.”
However, 12 points is all Shenandoah would enter halftime with, as the Royals outscored the Raiders 18-0 in the second quarter behind a noticeably more energized defense.
“I think we shut them out in the second quarter due to a … conversation we had in between the first and second quarter on the bench,” Doud said.
Once the second quarter began, Eastern Hancock extended their defense and used their superior length to disrupt passes and shots. Ball movement lead to open looks for juniors Emiley Carlton and Leah Ferguson.
Carleton would finish the night with a team-leading 15 points and 4 rebounds. Ferguson would finish with 8 points, but her control of the game was key to the Royals seizing the lead for good in the second quarter.
“Emiley Carlton gave us a nice balanced game tonight,” Doud said. “But we have a very balanced attack, and I think that showed throughout the game.
Despite the victory, the Royals will not be resting on their laurels in the next few days.
“I saw enough in that first quarter that gave me plenty to work with the girls on in practice,” Doud promised.
The Royals take the floor next on Tuesday at home against North Decatur in a Mid-Hoosier Conference matchup.