CHARLOTTESVILLE — Scrappy doesn’t even begin to describe Friday night’s contest between the Eastern Hancock Royals and the Shenandoah Raiders.
In a game that saw 35 total fouls and 35 turnovers, the Royals (17-7) dispatched the Raiders 56-28 to advance to their fifth sectional title game in 15 years.
Solid defensive play and a little extra jolt from the Royals’ bench helped secure a tough win. Eastern Hancock held the Raiders (6-16) to 6 of 25 shooting and coach Shari Doud was pleased with her team’s defensive effort.
“At this point in the season, it’s the defensive side of the ball that usually prevails, and I thought we were the better defensive team tonight,” Doud stated. “We did foul, and they spent a lot of time at the line, but we didn’t give them any free looks.”
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The Raiders had to work for everything they got and they relied heavily on their stars guard, Macee Rudy who scored 15.
Every time Rudy touched the ball it was almost a forgone conclusion that she was going to drive to the basket. She did attempt some 3-pointers, but her and the rest of the Raiders finished 0-for-10 from behind the arc.
“She’s a very determined dribble penetrator; she wants to get to the basket, and it sometimes takes two or three people to keep her tamed,” Doud said of Rudy. “We were not doing a good job of stepping all the way over to help stop the drive but rather playing with the reach instead of our feet.”
Offensively, both teams struggled early from the floor. The Royals’ leading scorer, Emiley Carlton, had to wait until the second quarter before she found her first bucket.
Yet, even with the offensive mishaps the Royals were able to take control behind some great play from their reserves.
Coming off the bench to lead the Royals in scoring was Haley Best, finishing with 12 points. She hit two big 3-pointers in the game and shot 4 of 5 at the line to help shoulder the team’s production.
Doud has known all season that her team has a lot of depth and she isn’t afraid to put anyone into the game.
“Haley has just got the mindset to score,” Doud said. “She’s got the scorer’s mentality and doesn’t lack confidence in that area, and we don’t lack confidence when she puts the ball in the air.”
The Royals will take on the Triton Central Tigers tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Sectional 42 final.
The Tigers easily defeated Howe 71-31 in the first semifinal game. The Royals will look to avenge a 41-22 loss to the Tigers earlier this season. It was the second-largest defeat this year for the Royals.