CHARLOTTESVILLE — There was more at stake Tuesday night for the Eastern Hancock girls basketball team than a victory.
“We weren’t supposed to have (Wednesday) off, but we get it because of how we played,” Eastern Hancock junior Kaysi Gilbert remarked after the Royals beat Cambridge City Lincoln 69-41 at home. “It feels great to earn it with a win.”
The Royals (10-3) efforts secured some early holiday cheer and extended their current win streak to two. In the past four games, Eastern Hancock has won three and stretched their run against Cambridge City Lincoln to six consecutive.
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“We dangled a big holiday carrot in front of their nose right before the game started, and they came out to play. They played really hard,” Eastern Hancock head coach Shari Doud said. “I’m really pleased with this group and what they’ve done so far.”
Despite some turnover issues and momentum-halting foul calls on both sides, the Royals persevered behind four players reaching double figures, including three starters.
Haley Best scored a team-high 14 points off the bench, shooting 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Emiley Carlton, Gilbert and Hope Spaulding all finished with 10 points each.
Gilbert was 3-for-4 from the field and opened the first quarter with seven points as Eastern Hancock ran out to a 24-9 lead early in the first half.
Peyton West and Leah Ferguson combined for eight assists for the Royals, who shot 58 percent from the floor through the first 16 minutes and capped the game with a 50 percent clip in the final two frames.
“We definitely play as a team very well,” Gilbert said. “We aren’t selfish with the ball. We definitely like to pass it around and get the best look.”
Best’s fourth trey from nearly 10 feet beyond the arc gave Eastern Hancock a 31-17 lead late in the second quarter.
The margin swelled to 21 points after Gilbert buried three free throws off a shooting foul midway in the third quarter. The guard applied the finishing touch to an 8-0 run late in the third as she poked free a steal and found Best in transition, who found Spaulding for an easy bucket and a 52-27 lead.
The Royals’ largest lead of the night stood at 32 points.
Kerrigan Neff scored a game-high 18 points for the Eagles (4-8) followed by Allie Owens with 10 points.
Eastern Hancock hit 18 of 21 free throws and out rebounded Cambridge City Lincoln 28-18.
“I thought we stayed in control the whole night, and I am really pleased with the direction we’re heading,” Doud said. “Going into the Christmas break, I couldn’t be happier with our effort and especially the heart they’ve shown every game.
“Perfect way to break. The girls get three days off and then we have a couple of days to get ready for a very good Frankton team.”
Class 2A Eastern Hancock hosts 2A No. 9 Frankton (13-2) on Tuesday in a boys/girls doubleheader.