CHARLOTTESVILLE — With a backcourt trio averaging more than 42 points per game, opposing defenses must account for Eastern Hancock junior guards A.J. Muegge, Brycen Napier and Addison True.
But they can’t forget about junior forward Duncan Cherry.
Cherry caught fire in the first quarter on Wednesday against North Decatur and nailed a 3-pointer just before halftime to help the Royals secure a 71-70 win against the Chargers.
Cherry finished with 14 points in the opening half and 16 for the game. With a nice stroke from deep and an unselfish attitude, Cherry adds another scoring punch to an offense featuring four players capable of reaching double figures.
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On Wednesday, it was Cherry’s turn to shine as he finished 6 of 8 from the field en route to a season-high in points. And despite a furious comeback from North Decatur in the fourth quarter, Eastern Hancock held on to improve to 4-3 this season.
The Chargers (3-4) outscored the Royals 35-24 in the fourth quarter after scoring 35 points through the first three periods.
“The drive and kick was working well tonight, and I knew I was feeling good in warmups,” Cherry said postgame. “We know, if we all are on, we can’t get a lead and give it up.”
Last season, North Decatur beat Eastern Hancock 57-44 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
This time around, despite out rebounding the Royals 40-22, the Chargers finished just 16-for-30 from the free-throw line in a game where every point mattered. Eastern Hancock finished 17 of 20 the foul line, led by Napier’s 10 of 12 effort.
“North Decatur’s size and their offensive rebounding (was the biggest concern),” Cherry said. “They killed us on the boards.”
Napier, the team’s top scorer this season, finished with 19 points in the game while True and Muegge added 18 and nine points, respectively.
Senior forward Dillon Merritt led the Chargers with 37 points.
Cherry was hot from the start and scored 11 points in the first quarter as Eastern Hancock and North Decatur were locked at 13-all heading into the second frame.
Napier added six points in the second quarter and matched the visitors with three field goals. The Royals led 30-21 at halftime and 47-35 after the three quarters before the Chargers would give the Royals all they had in the fourth.
Eastern Hancock finished the game 22 of 49 from the field while North Decatur was 25-for-48.
Senior guard Garrett Metz added nine points for the Chargers.
For the season, Cherry is averaging eight points per game with Muegge while True and Napier are scoring over 16.
The Royals will play again on Dec. 27 at Frankton.