Royals let one slip away

For the Daily Reporter

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Two teams entered the gym at Eastern Hancock looking for their first conference win of the season, but only one could leave with it secured.

Unfortunately for the host Royals, a back-and-forth game ended before they could snare the lead, resulting in a 46-43 loss to the visiting Waldron Mohawks.

“We’re really improving on the defensive side of the ball,” Eastern Hancock coach Aaron Spaulding stated after a lengthy post-game talk with his team. “Unfortunately, our struggles now our on offense.”

To start the game, both teams struggled mightily to hit jump shots, as the score was only 8-5 in favor of Waldron after the first quarter. In that quarter, the Royals would miss all six of their 3-point attempts.

In the second quarter however, the Royals drained four 3-pointers, including one at the buzzer by Addison True, to take a 23-19 lead into halftime.

True kept the Royals in the game the entire way, leading the team with 18 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.

“I think we are starting to settle too much for a 3-point shot,” Spaulding said. “When they’re not falling, we’ve got to work for better shots.”

Waldron followed that line of thinking to a tee in the third quarter as guard Peyton Huffman scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the frame on repeated drives to the basket and tear drop shots from the lane.

The defensive lapse for the Royals allowed Waldron to score 19 third-quarter points and take a 38-32 lead into the fourth.

After a quick Waldron basket to make it 40-32, the Royals defense clamped down again as Waldron did not score a basket until 50 seconds remained.

During that time, seven straight points by AJ Muegge and two free throws by True gave the Royals a 41-40 lead with 1:30 left to play.

Despite having a chance to take the lead at the line with 30 seconds to play, the Royals’ comeback fell short as Waldron made all four free throws at the end of the game to ice it.

“We’ve still got 13 games to play, and we’ve got six sophomores playing a lot of minutes,” Spaulding said. “I think if we keep working, we can get to where we want to be on both sides of the ball.”

The Royals will not have to wait long for another shot, as they travel to face Union County tonight.