FAIRLAND — For a third year in a row, the Class 2A Eastern Hancock Royals easily defeated Irvington Prep 64-22 in the opening round of Sectional 42. And for Royals coach Shari Doud, the hope is that it serves as a tune-up for the later rounds.
“The game played out mostly how I thought it would,” Doud said. “I knew we were the better basketball team, so it was good to have a game like this to get some of our kids some experience in a tournament like this.”
The game started without junior guard and career 3-point record-holder Haley Best in the lineup or even on the bench, as she missed the game with the flu. However, her replacement in the starting lineup ensured the Royals didn’t miss a beat.
Jocelyn Duncan drilled two 3-point shots of her own to start the scoring for the Royals, who would build up a 15-0 lead before Irvington would score a point. Duncan lead the Royals with 14 points and grabbed three rebounds on the night.
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“The flu is nasty this year,” Doud said. “As far as her playing status for Friday we will just have to wait and see.”
Irvington was able to pick it up a bit offensively the rest of the game, but the Royals’ depth and ability ensured they would never seriously worry about losing the lead. Ten different players for the Royals were able to get on the score sheet.
“We had four players who had never played in a sectional,” Doud said. “So to get them into the game and experiencing this atmosphere certainly won’t hurt us going forward.”
With the victory, the Royals improve to 14-9 on the season. They will get a chance to avenge a regular-season loss to rival Shenandoah on Friday night at 6 p.m. in the semifinals. The winner will advance to the Sectional 42 championship game Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.