For the Daily Reporter

INDIANAPOLIS — For the Eastern Hancock Royals, it was a “hard-hat” performance Thursday night. Despite their hard work, however, they fell to 2A No. 10 Covenant Christian by one point, 33-32.

“I’m really proud of the girls after this one,” Royals coach Sheri Doud said. “They really put on their hard hats and clawed back into the game.”

The Royals began the game with a slowed-down offense with the hopes of shutting down the Warriors’ leading scorer, Mikayla Cleary.

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“With a team as talented as (Covenant Christian) and a scorer as good as Cleary, we tried to slow the game down a bit to prevent them from having the ball,” Doud said. “But they didn’t like that so (Covenant Christian) switched to a zone defense we were able to attack.”

Despite scoring only five points in the first quarter, the Royals were down only five points at halftime.

After the break, the team’s only bench player of the night, Aly Spaulding, came in and went to work. Spaulding finished the game with 10 points but got those points by earning six different trips to the free-throw line.

“We want all of our girls to get to the free-throw line more,” Doud said, “and Aly had a great game and is really using her strength to take that lesson to heart.”

The Royals held the Warriors to just two points in the fourth quarter but were unable to complete the comeback. With 25 seconds left, Haley Best nailed a 3-pointer to draw the lead down to one point. And off a missed Covenant Christian free throw, the Royals drew a trip to the line, where they were fouled on rebound.

The Royals’ free-throw attempt missed, and a final three-point attempt from Libby Durham from the top of the key was just off the mark.

With the loss, the Royals’ record falls to 10-7 on the year. They next take the court Wednesday, when they host Union County at 7:30 p.m.