CENTERVILLE — Centerville could not quite figure it out. The more pressure Eastern Hancock brought Friday, the more the Bulldogs’ offense suffocated.
Forcing 17 first-half turnovers thanks in large to a 1-2-1-1 press, the Royals cruised to their fourth straight win against Centerville, 45-16. Leading 17-8 after one quarter of play, Eastern Hancock dialed up its defensive pressure even more and put together an impressive 17-0 run en route to its second consecutive win after a loss to begin the season.
Last season, the Royals topped the Bulldogs 36-21 at home.
Senior forward Emiley Carlton led the Royals (2-1) with 16 points and eight rebounds on Friday. Senior Peyton West grabbed seven rebounds in a solid hustle effort, while junior Liberty Durham came off the bench to score eight points.
“We are getting there on defense,” first-year Eastern Hancock head coach Andy Meneely said. “Our rebounding is getting better too. It wasn’t something we cracked down on in the beginning but it is coming around.
“It is kind of a bend but don’t break press. We are normally not looking for that many steals.”
Carlton finished with 10 points in the first quarter as Eastern Hancock shot 55 percent from the field. Her layup with 1:40 remaining in the quarter gave the Royals a 14-8 lead, which was later extended to 17-8 after a Haley Best 3-pointer.
West had one of the best passes of the night in the second quarter, flashing to the high post, only to find a cutting Bailey Allen for a layup behind the Centerville defense. Allen’s basket came midway through the 17-0 run as the Royals would score eight consecutive points the rest of the half to lead 34-8.
Eastern Hancock finished the first half 13 of 29 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
Six different Royals registered a steal in the stiff defensive effort. Carlton led the way with 13 points and six rebounds.
The Bulldogs were just 2 of 16 from the field after two quarters of play.
“We wanted to get them into situations they weren’t ready for,” Meneely said. “Length up top and a great ball reader in the back is key (to our press).”
In a much slower second half for both teams, Centerville scored once in the third quarter and made two threes in the fourth.
Carlton entered the game averaging a team-high 17.5 points per game, while Best, a sophomore, came in scoring 11.5 ppg.
Centerville’s first game against Alexandria on November 5 was postponed. The Royals opened their season with a loss to Beech Grove, then topped Elwood for Meneely’s first win with the program.
On Friday, senior Leah Ferguson added five points off the bench, while classmate Kaysi Gilbert scored four points and added three rebounds.
Allen contributed five points, three rebounds and three steals.
Eastern Hancock will play again today at home against Triton Central.
The Royals junior varsity team won 39-23 on Friday.