CHARLOTTESVILLE — Kaysi Gilbert used her length and athleticism to bother top-ranked Triton Central. Undersized forward Peyton West used heart and determination to control the glass. Emiley Carlton, Eastern Hancock’s leading scorer, was as energetic as ever and sliced to the basket at will.

For 32 minutes Saturday night, it all came together for the Eastern Hancock Royals.

Gilbert, West and Carlton, however, were just three of eight Royals who found their names in the scoring column after defeating the No. 1 team in Class 2A.

Haley Best drained multiple 3-pointers. Bailey Allen provided points at key times, including the final free throw to cap a 57-50 win.

Off the bench, Faith Webster, Lexi Lewman and Jenna Smith added a spark in a successful attempt to wear down their opponent, which entered the game with just one loss.

That type of effort will serve Eastern Hancock well in the Speedway Regional this weekend, according to Allen, who is third on the team in scoring.

“(A few) things we did extremely well against Triton Central was relax and play as a team,” Allen said. “When you have a lot of players with strong individual talents, stressful situations can bring out some selfishness.

“We stayed positive even when a lot of people told us we were going to lose. We will just have to keep working together and keep looking for high-percentage shots.”

Netting two wins in Sectional 42, the Royals (14-10) now enter a wide-open regional field including South Putnam, Winchester and Covenant Christian. Twelve other teams in Class 2A will play on Saturday for a chance to reach semistate competition. Six of the teams ranked in the top ten at the end of the season have already been eliminated from the tournament.

Since a 7-2 start, Eastern Hancock has experienced an up and down year, although they currently appear to be playing their best basketball. A win over South Putnam on Saturday would cap a four-game winning streak.

Carlton is averaging 16.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while Best is second on the team in scoring at 9.7 ppg. West, Smith, Gilbert and Allen all score between 4.0 and 6.0 ppg.

Smith and West also grab five rebounds per game for the Royals down low, while Best and Allen provide a scoring punch outside. The pair has made more than half of the team’s 3-pointers this season and are both shooting over 33 percent from distance.

Meet the

EaglesSouth Putnam is one of the younger teams entering the regional with a roster filled with sophomores and juniors. However, the Eagles will play without their leading rebounder from a season ago.

Junior Maddie McHugh went down with a torn ACL early in the year, according to South Putnam head coach Brian Gardner. With her injury, much of the Eagles’ scoring power lies in the backcourt with guards Miranda Bieghler, a junior, and sophomore Aubrey Barker.

Bieghler scores a team-high 12.5 ppg, while Barker chips in 9.0 ppg. Junior guard Lillie Stine adds reliable shooting depth.

“We started the year off pretty well and had quite a few girls back from last year,” Gardner said, who is in his second season at the school. “We were in it every game, a few got away from us, but for the most part we had a pretty good season.

“We are ok pushing the ball a little bit, and there have been some games where I feel that we have had to play in the half court. That was very evident in our sectional.”

The Eagles won three postseason games by a combined 14 points.

“I think going into the regional, having played under the pressure of having to make the right play down the stretch, those things, will help you when preparing for a tournament game,” Gardner said.

South Putnam topped Cascade by 11 in its sectional semifinal contest. Cascade beat Covenant Christian by a point earlier this year.

Meneely said the Eagles, on film, appear to be scrappy and will try to put some “heat” on Eastern Hancock’s guards. He also added that South Putnam’s backcourt will play similar to how Triton Central’s did most of this season.

“They are going to run a lot of stuff through their guards,” Meneely said. “They are very different than Triton Central but their guard play is similar. But they aren’t near as good in the post.”

The Royals proved they can handle skilled guards against the Tigers and will need the same focus defensively against another potentially explosive attack. Meneely said their defensive effort against Triton Central was the best he has seen all year.

“We did our best job of sticking with the defensive game plan the entire way,” he said. “That included our presses, trying to get them running to wear them down and our halfcourt sets. That was also the best I’ve seen us get on loose balls all year. They were amped up.”

First semifinal

Winchester (20-5) and Covenant Christian (14-9) will play in the first semifinal at 10 a.m. Saturday.Covenant Christian beat Eastern Hancock 67-54 on Jan. 5 and is currently on a four-game win streak. The Warriors began the season 0-5 but won seven straight contests immediately after.

Hardly challenged in its sectional, Covenant Christian has five players averaging between 8.6 and 11.7 ppg. Sophomores Bailey Everett and Jhordan McGuire lead the team in scoring, respectively, while senior Jacki Halderman leads the Warriors with 8.7 rpg.

Winchester has the most wins entering the regional and is currently riding a five-game win streak. The Golden Falcons are led in scoring by freshman Madeline Lawrence. She averages 16 ppg and seven rpg, while sophomore Kira Robinson is right behind her at 12.2 ppg and 6.9 rpg.

Winchester’s closest sectional game came against Cambridge City Lincoln, a 67-60 win.

“Covenant Christian is a tough team, but they are nothing to be fearful of,” Meneely said. “It’s just a matter of doing the right things and putting yourself in position.

“Winchester, I have not seen, but have looked through their scoring and they have been able to get wins when they needed to.”

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

Eastern Hancock


Coach: Andy Meneely, 14-10 in 1st year at school

Offensive Average: 56.0, Defensive Average: 48.4

Nov. 5 Beech Grove L 45- 52

Nov. 8 at Elwood W 49- 42

Nov. 11 at Centerville W 45- 16

Nov. 12 Triton Central L 35- 52

Nov. 18 Irvington Prep Academy W 75- 30

Nov. 19 at Union County W 53- 31

Nov. 22 Shenandoah W 50- 35

Nov. 29 at Southwestern (Shelbyville) W 50- 41

Dec. 3 Liberty Christian W 56- 40

Dec. 6 at North Decatur L 64- 65

Dec. 16 at Knightstown W 62- 49

Dec. 20 at Cambridge City Lincoln L 52- 53

Dec. 22 at Blue River L 57- 68

Dec. 27 at Frankton L 61- 66

Dec. 29 Lapel L 62- 65

Jan. 5 Covenant Christian L 54- 67

Jan. 12 Morristown W 58- 44

Jan. 19 at New Palestine L 41- 70

Jan. 21 at Waldron W 83- 61

Jan. 23 Anderson Prep Academy W 67- 27

Jan. 24 Indianapolis Ritter L 47- 68

Jan. 26 Tri W 71- 63

Feb. 3 Irvington Prep Academy W 51- 7 Sectional

Feb. 4 Triton Central W 57- 50 Sectional

South Putnam


Coach: Brian Gardner, 26-22 in 2nd year at school

Offensive Average 49.8, Defensive Average 44.7

Nov. 8 at Rockville W 44- 42

Nov. 11 at Edgewood W 31- 21

Nov. 18 Cloverdale W 54- 33 tournament

Nov. 19 Greencastle L 35- 53 tournament

Nov. 21 Southmont W 66- 65

Nov. 30 at South Vermillion W 44- 37

Dec. 2 at North Putnam W 40- 28

Dec. 6 at Clay City W 59- 45

Dec. 9 Greencastle L 43- 54

Dec. 12 at Owen Valley L 39- 55

Dec. 16 at West Vigo W 53- 47

Dec. 17 Cascade L 46- 68

Dec. 27 Bethesda Christian W 51- 42

Dec. 27 Cloverdale L 35- 38

Jan. 3 Shakamak W 57- 26

Jan. 6 Sullivan L 46- 52

Jan. 10 at Riverton Parke L 53- 57

Jan. 11 Eminence W 83- 16

Jan. 13 Northview L 55- 58

Jan. 16 North Central (Farmersburg) W 59- 17

Jan. 20 Edgewood L 43- 51 tournament

Jan. 26 Cloverdale L 55- 73

Jan. 31 Southmont W 43- 42 sectional

Feb. 3 at Cascade W 63- 52 sectional

Feb. 4 Cloverdale W 47- 45 sectional

Covenant Christian


Coach: Joe Smith, 73-29 in 4th year at school

Offensive Average 60.1, Defensive Average 43.0

Nov. 4 Lebanon L 47- 49

Nov. 5 Franklin L 54- 60

Nov. 8 at Avon L 54- 60

Nov. 11 Cascade L 56- 57

Nov. 12 at Plainfield L 33- 54

Nov. 15 at Indianapolis Chatard W 58- 39

Nov. 19 Monrovia W 73- 23

Dec. 1 Brebeuf Jesuit W 64- 11

Dec. 3 at Indian Creek W 63- 35

Dec. 10 Indianapolis Cathedral W 55- 47

Dec. 17 at Indianapolis Ritter W 55- 45

Dec. 28 Indianapolis Tindley W 74- 66 tournament

Dec. 28 Indianapolis Roncalli L 54- 57 tournament

Jan. 5 at Eastern Hancock W 67- 54

Jan. 10 Indianapolis Chatard L 52- 55 tournament

Jan. 14 at Indianapolis Scecina W 74- 31

Jan. 17 at Triton Central L 41- 49

Jan. 19 Speedway W 80- 17

Jan. 21 at Indianapolis Attucks L 51- 56

Jan. 24 at Tri-West W 74- 46

Jan. 31 Indianapolis Scecina W 76- 26 sectional

Feb. 3 Indianapolis Shortridge W 74- 18 sectional

Feb. 4 Speedway W 54- 34 sectional



Coach: Holly Gutierrez, 32-17 in 2nd year at school, 96-64 in 7th year overall

Offensive Average 60.2, Defensive Average 38.8

Nov. 5 at Bluffton W 59- 51

Nov. 12 Shenandoah W 69- 21

Nov. 15 Adams Central W 77- 28

Nov. 18 Tri W 62- 35

Nov. 19 at Jay County W 57- 51

Nov. 23 at Hagerstown W 52- 25

Nov. 26 at Wapahani W 47- 33

Nov. 30 at Delta ot L 49- 51

Dec. 3 Monroe Central L 45- 51

Dec. 6 South Adams W 43- 42

Dec. 8 at Wes-Del W 83- 27

Dec. 10 Cambridge City Lincoln W 56- 37

Dec. 13 at Union City L 56- 59

Dec. 31 Yorktown W 46- 38

Jan. 4 Union (Modoc) W 77- 28 tournament

Jan. 6 at Union City L 52- 55 tournament

Jan. 11 Muncie Central W 72- 44

Jan. 12 at Union County W 43- 30

Jan. 16 Centerville W 82- 25

Jan. 19 at Randolph Southern L 38- 45

Jan. 21 Cowan W 74- 38

Jan. 23 at Northeastern W 67- 25

Jan. 31 Centerville W 67- 29 sectional

Feb. 3 Cambridge City Lincoln W 67- 60 sectional

Feb. 4 at Northeastern W 65- 41 sectional


Class 2A Speedway Regional

G1: Winchester (20-5) vs. Covenant Christian (14-9) at 10 a.m. Saturday

G2: Eastern Hancock (14-10) vs. South Putnam (15-10) at 12 p.m. Saturday


G3: G1 winner vs. G2 winner at 8 p.m. Saturday

Regional Picks by John Harrell

John Harrell’s Picks, Speedway Regional



Covenant Christian;46.2%;20.8%;10.2%

Eastern Hancock;12.1%;2.2%;0.5%

South Putnam;10.0%;1.7% ;0.3%

Author photo
Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or