CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock’s girls basketball team has battled slow starts all season, and despite an impressive fourth-quarter rally, the Royals simply could not claw back in a loss to Frankton on Tuesday night.

The Class 2A No. 9 Eagles used a 20-0 first-quarter run to seal a 58-50 victory against Eastern Hancock, increasing its winning streak to nine games.

Athletic sophomore forward Destyne Knight (16.7 points per game) used three steals and seven points in the opening stanza to build a lead Frankton would never surrender. She finished with 13 points.

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For Eastern Hancock, freshman guard Haley Best finished with 12 points, including four 3-point field goals. Junior Emiley Carlton added 10 points and eight rebounds.

Royals (10-4) head coach Shari Doud said the early deficit was too much to overcome.

“We are trying to get them to believe they can play basketball,” she said. “We really came out flat.”

Trailing 20-4 after one quarter of play, Eastern Hancock nearly matched Frankton (14-2) in the second quarter with six points off the bench from freshman forward Jenna Smith. The Royals shot just 6-for-30 in the first half, however, and took a 36-17 deficit into the break.

As a unit, Eastern Hancock came out aggressive in the third quarter but could never string together a run to threaten the Eagles’ lead until the fourth. Trailing 53-31, the Royals went on a 14-0 run to pull the game within eight, 53-45, with just under three minutes left on the clock.

Six different Royals scored during the run, including 3-pointers from Best, but the Eagles hit just enough free throws down the stretch to keep Eastern Hancock at a distance.

“When you make baskets you get a boost of energy,” Doud said. “Our backs were very much to the wall.”

Sophomore guard Sydney Tucker entered the game averaging a team-high 17.6 ppg for the Eagles and finished with 22. Frankton has only lost to Pendleton Heights and Muncie Central this season, both Class 4A programs.

Looking forward, the Royals return to action on Jan. 5 with a home game against Mid-Hoosier Conference foe Southwestern at 7:30 p.m.

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Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or kmills@greenfieldreporter.com.