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Offseason Hoops Update: EH girls have something to prove

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CHARLOTTESVILLE — One hundred and twelve days prior to his team’s first official practice, Jeremy Powers is already hearing the doubters.

With seven seniors and nearly 82 percent of the scoring departed from the Royals’ 2013-14 outfit that finished 17-5 for the second straight season, some apparently expect EH to take a step back in 2014-15.

That’s not the way the Royals’ fourth-year coach sees it.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘You won’t be very good. You’re going to have to rebuild,’” said Powers, 46-19 through three seasons in Charlottesville. “We’re reloading; we’re not rebuilding. I honestly feel we’ll be just as good.”

For the first time next winter, Powers won’t be relying on the Kiersten Schrope-Hannah Best-Kristin Eischen-Alora Marshall-Lauren Harmon core. As freshmen the year before Powers arrived, that quintet finished 3-17. They went 12-11 during Powers’ initial campaign before making a giant leap their junior and senior seasons.

Now, they’re gone. But Powers insists that talent remains, and he’s seen enough during EH’s busy summer schedule to feel confident in that assertion.

The Royals participated in the Richmond Summer League on June 3, 10 and 24, facing off against quality competition that included a number of Ohio high schools and Lawrenceburg.

“We finished winning three out of four games, so that gave us a huge confidence boost,” added Powers, who also lost 2014 fourth-years Morgan Mench and Skyler Overleese.

On June 13, EH competed at the Indiana Wesleyan Shootout, and were placed in a pool based on 2013-14 records. The Royals played Class 3A Norwell (21-5), 3A John Glenn (15-4), 3A Fort Wayne Concordia (19-4) and 2A Oak Hill (18-5). They went 1-3.

“It was an eye-opener for our kids,” Powers said. “Honestly, we held our own against some good teams. We’re not concerned about our record during the summer.”

For the second straight year, EH trekked down to Lexington, Kentucky, for the Transylvania University Team Camp. There, the Royals competed against mostly Kentucky programs – though they did face Class A Springs Valley and 4A Floyd Central – and played seven games in three days from June 17-19.

“Outside of one or two teams on our schedule, we won’t see as good of competition as we did down there. It’s was a good team-bonding experience, a chance for your young kids to gel and play together,” Powers said. “At the end of the week, you’re tired, but it was good learning experience especially for the kids that don’t have any varsity experience. We’re going to have to rely on them this year. It gets them used to the varsity competition. The kids coming back helped the young kids along the way.”

Eastern Hancock’s 2013-14 season ended with a 59-55 loss to rival Knightstown in the sectional championship at EH. Senior-to-be Shelby Mourey, fresh off a 13th-place finish in the high jump at the girls track State Finals, was the first player Powers mentioned when asked about what he’s seen in his team since the season ended.

“It starts with the way the season ended. You learn a lot of yourself, your program, the players that left and the ones that are coming back. And it really gets started with our senior Shelby Mourey,” Powers said of the 5-6 guard who averaged 2.4 steals per game last winter. “You see a difference with her on the team because of her defensive spark. She knows what her role is – shut down the other team’s best offensive player and cause havoc.”

Other noteworthy returnees include 5-9 sophomore forward Emiley Carlton, who averaged 14.3 points in EH’s last three games, and 5-10 junior Darby Shaw. Shaw averaged 6.4 points and seven rebounds in 16 games before having her season cut short due to injury.

“Emiley has really evolved; you saw it at the end of the year last year. She did what we asked of her and really took off at the end of the year. She’ll be someone we look to replace the scoring we lost from Kiersten,” Powers said. “Darby will anchor the inside for us. You could see the inside presence that she has this summer. She’s healthy, which is a huge plus for us.”

Powers will receive an injection of talent from the JV squad, which went 17-1 last year. Sophomore Leah Ferguson is Schrope’s heir apparent at point guard. Junior Hope Spaulding as well as sophomores Shelby King and Peyton West stand to see major roles.

The IHSAA is now allowing girls and basketball teams to play 22 games (with no in-season tournament) or 20 games plus one in-season tournament. Previously, team were permitted 18 regular-season games and  one in-season tournament or 20 regular-season tilts and no in-season tournament.

Last December, the Royals competed in the Guerin Catholic Tournament, beating Guerin and losing to Ritter. For the 2014-15 season, Powers decided to play 22 games and add some muscle to his squad’s schedule.

Class 2A Frankton (7-13 in 2013-14), 2A Hagerstown (15-6), 4A New Palestine (9-11), Class A Randolph Southern (15-6) and 2A Shenandoah (16-5, sectional title) are now on EH’s slate. The Royals had scheduled Franklin County last year, but had to postpone the game because of the EH football team’s march to the State Finals and never made up the game. EH will also not play Muncie South, which consolidated into Muncie Central, for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

“It beefs up our schedule and prepares us for the postseason,” Powers said. “Allowing these kids to play two more games is a huge opportunity and is going to make us better.”

With a strong summer behind them, the Royals are picking up confidence as the 2014-15 campaign approaches.

“These kids are going to surprise a lot of people. Not many expect us to be as good as we’ve been the last two years. When I took over three years ago, the kids had to be taught how to win. The group coming back, they know how to win,” Powers offered. “Now it’s a matter of taking that to the next level, to get them to understand what’s going to take to be a consistent winner on a consistent level. These kids we have coming in are extra-competitive.

“I can’t wait to prove people wrong. People didn’t expect us to be good when I took over. I think we’re going to be great this year, I really do.”


>> Tentative 2014-15 Eastern Hancock girls basketball schedule:

Date Opponent Time

Nov. 12 at Elwood {2A} 7:30 pm 

Nov. 17 Hagerstown {2A} 7:30 pm 

Nov. 21 Franklin County {3A} 7:30 pm 

Nov. 22 at Union County {2A} 7:30 pm 

Nov. 25 Randolph Southern {1A} 7:30 pm 

Nov. 29 at Indian Creek {3A}‡ 7:30 pm 

Dec. 2 South Decatur {1A}‡ 7:30 pm 

Dec. 5 Shenandoah {2A} 7:30 pm 

Dec. 9 at North Decatur {2A}‡ 7:30 pm 

Dec. 11 Northeastern {2A} 7:30 pm 

Dec. 16 Lapel {2A} 7:30 pm 

Dec. 19 at Knightstown {2A}‡ 7:30 pm 

Dec. 30 at Frankton {2A} TBD 

Jan. 3 at Cambridge City Lincoln {2A} 1:30 pm 

Jan. 6 at Southwestern (Shelbyville) {1A}‡ 7:30 pm 

Jan. 12 at Edinburgh {1A}‡ 7:30 pm 

Jan. 15 Morristown {1A}‡ 7:30 pm 

Jan. 22 at New Palestine {4A} TBD 

Jan. 24 at Waldron {1A}‡ 2:00 pm 

Jan. 29 Tri {1A} 7:30 pm 

Jan. 31 Hauser {1A}‡ 1:30 pm 

Feb. 5 at Centerville {2A} 7:30 pm 


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