For The Daily Reporter
MORRISTOWN — Eastern Hancock High School boys basketball coach Aaron Spaulding had seen this script before.
His Royals play a close first half and come up just short down the stretch.
However, Friday night was different.
Thanks in part to the hot shooting of senior guard Ryan Speas, who was 8-of-11 from behind the 3-point arc, Eastern Hancock managed to turn its slim 28-27 halftime advantage into a big 71-58 road win at Morristown in a Mid-Hoosier Conference clash. With the win, the Royals improved to 7-14, 2-7 MHC, while the Yellow Jackets fell to 9-11, 4-5 MHC.
“We have had a lot of games this season where we were right there and it slipped away from us. I thought we had a great third quarter, and we were able to gather ourselves down the stretch for the win. This is the first time this season we have won two games in a row, and I feel like we have had four games in a row where we had chances to win. This was a nice, big win for us in a tough place to play. I am proud of the kids, and it was a great job and effort by our kids,” said Spaulding, who improved to 188-187.
Morristown came out and set the tone early, limiting Eastern Hancock to four field goals en route to building a 12-10 advantage.
That’s when Speas warmed up, drilling three consecutive 3-pointers and giving the visiting Royals a halftime lead they would not relinquish.
The halftime break did little to slow down Eastern Hancock, who opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run and watched the lead swell to 42-29 midway through the frame following a three-pointer by Speas.
“We made some adjustments at the half. I thought we had a good second quarter and attacked and did a good job with our inside-outside game. We got some nice looks and that carried over into the third quarter,” Spaulding said.
Speas led the way for Eastern Hancock with 24 points after opening the game missing his first two shots from behind the arc.
“Ryan had a big night. He is a great shooter, especially if he gets hot. I remember he hit seven in a row last year. We talked about moving the ball and getting good looks, and we did that tonight. If we do that, we have a chance to win games,” Spaulding said.
In addition to the output from Speas, Eastern Hancock got 19 from Addison True and 17 from A.J. Muegge.
“We feel like and our goal is to compete in the sectional. We feel we are a hard out for anyone, and we will go and give it our best shot,” Spaulding said.
Eastern Hancock does hold a win against Sectional 42 foe and ranked Shenandoah, something Spaulding said should give his team confidence in the postseason.
“Anytime you get a win, it is a good thing. It proves we can do it. When we play hard and we play together, we can do it. We know we can win, and we have the confidence that we can,” he said.
Morristown was paced by both Logan Laster and Hayden Langkabel, who each scored 21 in the loss.