CHARLOTTESVILLE — It wasn’t about the opponent Friday night for Eastern Hancock. It was simply about getting better, Royals first-year head coach Andy Meneely said after the win.
With 12 players registering at least two points — led by sophomore Jenna Smith’s 11 points — Eastern Hancock, despite a lopsided 75-30 victory, improved in several phases of the game against an undermanned Irvington Prep squad.
The Royals improved against the zone, with agile senior Emiley Carlton in the high post, who also reached double figures on Friday with 10 points. And they improved defensively, forcing the visiting Ravens into 17 turnovers.
Even a deep Eastern Hancock bench made the most of its opportunity, which will help the starters tonight when the Royals travel to Union County for their second consecutive back-to-back weekend.
Junior Liberty Durham and sophomore Haley Best also scored 10 points and, along with senior Leah Ferguson, connected on first-quarter threes as the home team took a 27-2 lead going into the second quarter.
“The hard thing about this game is making sure the girls are going to stay with high intensity,” Meneely said, who is now 3-2 with team. “We have been working on stuff in practice that we haven’t been doing (well) in games. That’s really what I was looking for tonight, to see if those adjustments were being made.
“There are little schematic things this game helps us do.”
The Royals, who led 48-11 at halftime, won their third consecutive game over the Ravens. Last season, Eastern Hancock won 67-10 during the regular season and 81-8 in sectional play.
Sophomore guard Madison Duncan led Irvington Prep with five 3-pointers. She finished with 15 points.
For the Royals, senior Peyton West was all over the stat sheet and finished with four points, six rebounds and five assists. J. Smith and Skyla Smith, a freshman, added five rebounds apiece in the win.
Junior varsity players, who did not have a game of their own on Friday, played valuable minutes in the second half — mainly in the fourth quarter.
“I always try to keep one or two straight varsity kids in (with the junior varsity players) so they can feed off them,” Meneely said. “It got to a situation where would could rest for tomorrow.”
The Royals were outscored in just one quarter Friday, 14-12, in the third. Eastern Hancock made four shots from behind the arc and finished 13 of 21 from the free throw line.
Carlton entered the game averaging a team-high 17.5 points per game, while Best came in scoring 11.5 ppg. Carlton is also averaging a team-leading 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game.
“(Carlton) set the tone early for us tonight in the zone and went to work,” Meneely said.