CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Eastern Hancock Royals kept looking for chances to make a comeback, but the Lapel Bulldogs kept snatching them away.
Some key 3-pointers in the second quarter, some steals in the fourth quarter and some Lapel free throw misses gave the Class 2A Royals a few glimpses of catching the 2A Bulldogs, but ultimately, Lapel defeated Eastern Hancock 63-51.
A slow start in both the first and second halves plagued the Eastern Hancock team. They spent the rest of the game chasing the Bulldogs. The only time they caught up was in the second quarter when they took the lead for about three minutes.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game. The Royals took a timeout to recuperate.
“I’m not sure we came quite as focused as we needed to be,” Eastern Hancock head coach Aaron Spaulding said. “They shot the ball well early. We didn’t get it out to shooters early and we let them get going in the first half.”
A few Duncan Cherry threes and one from Tyler Blattner brought them within one point at the start of the second quarter then a jumbled post-play ending in an Addison True basket tied the game 20-20 with five minutes left in the half. A Tyler Castle 3-pointer gave them a 23-20 advantage.
Despite a few Lapel turnovers, the Bulldogs recovered the lead 27-25 by halftime. Eastern Hancock didn’t lead again.
“To beat a team like that, you need to be sharp on both ends of the floor and we weren’t quite up to that tonight,” Spaulding said.
Bulldog Austin Lyons found some good looks from the arc in the first quarter and Carson Huber followed in like kind in the second. While Lapel had a solid 3-point night, Eastern Hancock didn’t find their groove.
The Royals went 7-for-26 (27 percent) from the arc. the Bulldogs went 10-for-15 (67 percent).
“We have kids who can shoot the ball but we settled for (3-pointers) way too much tonight,” Spaulding said.
Overall, Lapel took 17 fewer shots and shot 20 percent better.
The second half saw another fast start for Lapel. They jumped up 37-28 in the first three minutes of the second half and Spaulding took another timeout to recuperate.
The Bulldogs outscored the Royals 18-6 in the third quarter. The closest Eastern Hancock came was five points in the final eight minutes. Castle got the steal and breakaway layup to bring the score to 49-44, but Lapel free throws sealed the game from there.
This is Eastern Hancock’s fourth loss of the season. They were coming off of two big Mid-Eastern Conference wins against Shenandoah and Monroe Central.
“I think we maybe relaxed a little,” Spaulding said. “What we need this week is a great week of practice and two solid efforts on Thursday and Saturday.”
Eastern Hancock travels to Tri on Feb. 1 and plays host to conference-foe Cowan on Feb. 3.