MORRISTOWN — For Eastern Hancock head coach Aaron Spaulding, playing Class A No. 4 Morristown couldn’t have come at a better time.
“(Morristown) is the best team we’ve played all year,” Spaulding said. “If we have any aspirations of getting out of our sectional, we are going to have to know what kind of effort it takes to beat a team that good.”
Unfortunately for the Royals, they did not get the victory Friday night, losing to the Yellow Jackets, 72-59. Eastern Hancock played Morristown even for the last 19 minutes of the game, but the first 14 minutes is what did them in, and that’s what Spaulding says the takeaway has to be.
“We were just a bit too sloppy in the first half there, and we just didn’t put together a full game,” said Spaulding. “But I was happy with how we responded making the game as close as it was.”
At one point during the second quarter, the Royals were down 21 points. But after tightening up on defense and knocking down shots, they made the Yellow Jackets earn it.
Addison True had another strong game for the Royals, scoring 20 points with eight rebounds. And he got help from fellow seniors A.J. Muegge and Jacob Eischen to bring the game to within five points in the fourth quarter.
Eischen began attacking the boards in the second half, often coming away with rebounds against Morristown who crashed the boards heavily. Eischen would finish the game with six points and 10 rebounds.
“I got into Jacob a little bit at halftime because he wasn’t going after the boards strong enough,” Spaulding said. “But he really improved after that and helped us out.”
Muegge had one of his strongest offensive games of the year, finishing with 16 points and making three baskets in a row in the fourth quarter to get the Royals to within five points with 4:30 remaining. Morristown’s athleticism and free-throw shooting kept the Royals from getting over the hump however, and the Royals were never able to get any closer.
The loss drops Eastern Hancock’s record to 14-5 on the season. They next take the court Tuesday when they travel to Blue River for a Mid-Eastern Conference game.
If the Royals win their last two conference games (at Blue River and at Union Modoc), they are assured of at least a share of the conference championship.