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Eastern Hancock drops another close game, 59-56

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — When Muncie Burris, clinging to a 2-point lead, committed a turnover with 5.8 seconds left in the game, Eastern Hancock must have surely thought its luck in tight games had finally turned.

But then Victor Vincz’s potential game-tying layup rolled out as time expired, and the host Royals dropped another close one, 59-56.

It was the fifth straight defeat for EH (2-8), the program’s longest winless stretch since opening the 2006-07 campaign 0-5. Of the Royals’ eight setbacks, six have been decided by 10 points or less.

“It’s one of those years thus far,” said EH coach Aaron Spaulding of his team’s crunch-time struggles. “Hopefully we’re getting it out of the way early.”

The Owls’ Mack Rathbun led all scorers and rebounders with 29 points and 12 boards.

Contained in the first half, the six-foot-3 senior forward exploded for 25 second-half points. With his team leading 34-29 entering the fourth quarter, Rathbun drilled triples on three consecutive possessions to open the final frame.

“We did an exceptional job on (Rathbun) in the first half,” explained Spaulding, whose team is off to its worst start since the 2004-05 squad began 2-13. “He was the person we were most concerned about coming in, and he hit those three 3s that kind of turned the tide.”

Shane McCormick kept the Royals afloat with his squad’s first seven points of the final quarter. McCormick finished with a team-high 16 points.

And when the Owls threatened to run away late in the fourth, Vincz brought the home team back with a personal 7-0 burst, giving EH a 48-47 advantage.

Vincz engineered another Royals run earlier in the contest, assisting on all five baskets during a 10-2 EH sprint to close the second quarter. The hosts were in front 24-21 at intermission.

“Right now we’re seeing spurts of him. … To be quite honest, he’s in October form as far as conditioning,” said Spaulding of Vincz, who missed the first four games of the season with concussion-like symptoms. “He’s going to get better and better as the year goes on.”

Eastern Hancock was down 58-53 with 14.8 seconds remaining when Garrett Hancock was fouled on a 3-point attempt. He sank all three free throws.

The ball was then inbounded to Rathbun, who lost his footing in front of the EH bench and was whistled for a traveling violation.

That turn of events gave way to Vincz’s miss at the buzzer.

Isaiah Anderson notched 15 of his 22 points in the first half for Muncie Burris (4-3), a unique opponent for the Royals.

The Owls are the first team EH played this season that wasn’t a common Hancock County, Mid-Hoosier Conference or Sectional 41 foe. Of the Royals’ 20 regular-season games, 16 of them are against county, conference or sectional squads.

EH travels to Class A No. 7 Waldron (9-0), an MHC adversary, for its next tilt on Jan. 11. It’s another opportunity for the Royals to find their footing in what could be another close encounter.

 “We can certainly do some things better. We could have made some decisions that could have been better,” offered Spaulding, referencing his team’s play in late-game situations. “But, we’ve got to keep working at it.”

Notes: EH’s Spencer Gilbert grabbed seven rebounds, including six offensive. Vincz and forward Cody Wallace also had seven boards for the Royals. … EH has yet to score 60 points this season after scoring 60 or more 12 times in 2011-12. … The Royals won the JV game 45-28. Dustin Davidson had 10 points for EH.


Muncie Burris 59, Eastern Hancock 56

MB — Anderson 7-9 6-7 22, Norris 1-4 0-0 2, Rathbun 9-17 8-10 29, Morey 0-3 0-0 0, Stuart 1-5 4-4 6, Bridgman 0-3 0-0 0, Baker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 18-41 18-21 59.

EH — S. McCormick 6-9 3-4 16, Vincz 5-17 3-4 14, Wallace 4-11 0-0 8, Hancock 1-5 4-5 7, I. McCormick 2-6 0-0 6, Gilbert 2-7 0-0 5, Noel 0-2 0-0 0, Henderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals — 20-57 10-13 56.


MB (4-3)     11   10   13   25 — 59

EH (2-8)        6    18    5   27 — 56

Three-pt. field goals: MB 5-17 (Anderson 2-3, Norris 0-2, Rathbun 3-8, Morey 0-2, Stuart 0-2), EH 6-14 (S. McCormick 1-2, Vincz 1-4, Hancock 1-3, I. McCormick 2-4, Gilbert 1-1).

Rebounds: MB 22 (Anderson 1, Norris 4, Rathbun 12, Stuart 3, Bridgman 2), EH 31 (S. McCormick 3, Vincz 7, Wallace 7, Hancock 4, I. McCormick 3, Gilbert 7). Assists: MB 7 (Anderson 3, Norris 2, Stuart 2, EH 11 (S. McCormick 1, Vincz 6, Hancock 1, I. McCormick 2, Gilbert 1). Steals: MB 4 (Norris 1, Morey 1, Stuart 2), EH 3 (Vincz 1, Gilbert 1, Henderson 1). Blocks: MB 1 (Norris 1), EH 1 (S. McCormick). Total fouls: MB 14, EH 17. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: MB 8, EH 6.


Eastern Hancock 45, Muncie Burris 28

EH — Davidson 10, Fout 9.

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