FAIRLAND — The Eastern Hancock Royals’ season came to a heartbreaking end Tuesday night as they lost to Irvington Prep 58-57.
In a game that included a late arrival by the Ravens, no opening tip-off and 16 combined 3-pointers, the memory will drive many Royals’ juniors this offseason.
“You know, usually after games like these I’m going around and consoling seniors,” Royals coach Aaron Spaulding said afterwards. “But with this team, I can just tell them to use this memory to work harder for next season.”
The game started off with an oddity, as junior Addison True shot two uncontested free throws, made them both, and the Royals then inbounded the first possession.
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There was no jump ball. Irvington’s bus driver mistakenly drove the team to the wrong location for the game, and their late arrival necessitated a double-technical foul penalty.
Irvington was not able to complete a full warm-up, and it showed as the Royals raced out to a 12-0 lead before Irvington could score.
The Royals were able to contain the Ravens’ offense for the next two quarters and entered the fourth quarter with a 41-31 lead. Then, Irvington began to press.
As the fourth quarter began the Ravens ran a full-court press that initially the Royals were able to break with a drive by True and a 3-pointer by Napier. But eventually the athleticism was too much for the Royals to overcome.
True would finish the game with 20 points and five rebounds, while Napier finished with 14 points and two rebounds. True, Napier, and fellow junior Duncan Cherry each made three 3-point baskets in the game.
Irvington scored 27 points in the fourth quarter, and they needed every one of them.
After the Royals made a free throw to take a 57-55 lead, the Ravens were able to secure three consecutive offensive possessions. After a driving attempt by Ravens leading scorer Jacob Hatton (25 points, five rebounds), the teams tied up and the possession arrow went to the Ravens.
After another attempt at a tie, a wild scramble ended up with an Irvington player on the floor calling a timeout. The third time was the charm for the Ravens, as Tewon Kelly drove and kicked after a timeout to Cameron Black, who calmly sank a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining.
A full-court heave was no good by True, and the Royals’ season was over.
“In the end, we needed to get one rebound and we didn’t,” Spaulding said. “(Irvington) is an athletic team, and we just weren’t able to get the ball at the end.”
Eastern Hancock after playing a schedule loaded with Central Indiana’s top Class 2A and A teams, finished the 2016-17 season with a 12-11 record. The Royals will return their top-eight scorers next winter.