BY SPENSER HANSON
For the Daily Reporter
MIDDLETOWN — For the Eastern Hancock Royals, the sectional draw did them no favors.
Drawing the defending sectional champion Shenandoah Raiders on their home floor, the Royals fell 53-40 to end what was otherwise a successful season.
“Playing on their home floor was always going to be tough,” Royals coach Aaron Spaulding said. “After we had beat them early in the year, we knew they would come out with some extra motivation.”
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That early motivation showed for the Raiders, as they swarmed the Royals from the tip and stormed to an early 11-3 lead, forcing a timeout from Spaulding.
“That first quarter is really where they built their lead,” Spaulding said. “And throughout the first half the 50-50 balls seemed to keep going their way.”
The Royals trailed by 10 points at halftime, and senior Addison True showed off his shooting range to keep the Royals within shouting distance. Three shots from well beyond the 3-point line fell for True in the half.
He finished the final game of his Eastern Hancock career with 18 points and two rebounds. He leaves as the school’s all-time leader in points, rebounds and steals.
The Royals began chipping away at the Raider lead in the third quarter, and senior A.J. Muegge capped the quarter with a steal and score to attempt to spark the Royals.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Royals had the lead down to six, but they couldn’t complete the comeback.
“We got the lead down to six and had a shot that would have made it three,” Spaulding said. “But the shot didn’t fall and we just couldn’t get it back from there.”
According to Spaulding, the loss ends an otherwise successful season for the Royals, who finish 17-6 and Mid-Eastern Indiana Conference champions.
“When we sat down as a coaching staff before the season we wanted 15 wins and a conference championship; they got 17 wins and won the conference.”
The loss also marks the last game for seven Royal seniors, whose loss will be felt.
“These guys were a fun-loving bunch, but they really grew as teammates this year, and we will miss them,” Spaulding said.