CHARLOTTESVILLE — Friday night’s girls basketball game between Eastern Hancock and Franklin County certainly had the officials busy, as they called 43 total fouls.
How the teams responded to the whistles played a major role in the outcome.
EH stepped it up at the foul line while the Wildcats could not, and the Royals pulled out a tight one, 48-42, for their second straight win.
After the score became tied at 33 with one quarter to play, EH (2-1) made 10-of-13 free-throw attempts while FC (1-2) went 4-for-10.
The Royals ended 13-for-19 at the stripe, where as the Wildcats missed 20 of their 36 tries.
“We shoot free throws individually every day, and when they’re not at 60 percent they’ve got crunches or some type of thing that they have to do,” EH coach Jeremy Powers said. “It’s starting to pay off. The girls are gaining confidence in themselves. They’re allowing us to finish games and I know they’re going to hit their free throws.”
A seven-point spurt by junior guard Hannah Best early in the fourth quarter would allow the Royals to distance themselves from FC at the line later on.
Best, who had missed her first nine shots before converting one in the third quarter, gave EH a 36-34 lead with a three-pointer at the 7:22 mark of the fourth. She followed with a rebound bucket and two free throws, and the Royals were up six. They never led by less than three after that.
Best ended with 12 points, all in the second half. She shared team-high honors with fellow junior guard Kiersten Schrope.
“I told Hannah to keep shooting and to not let her shot affect the rest of her game,” Powers said. “Once she got the 3 to go in from the corner, that broke the ice for her.”
Sophomore center Peyton Heisler provided energy off the bench with seven points, as many rebounds and a good defensive effort against Wildcat bigs Cara Maples and Shelby Ronnebohm.
“It’s not just (Best and Heisler); all 10 girls did something well,” Powers said. “They gave us a spurt both offensively and defensively, and that’s what makes these girls special.”
Aside from deficits of 2-0, 4-3 and 34-33 at the start of the final quarter, EH was either ahead or tied the whole game. The Royals’ largest lead was 23-12 just before halftime.
Both of Class 2A EH’s wins have been against 3A schools, and another one awaits next Saturday at Indian Creek, which is the Royals’ next opponent.
“I told these girls that we’ve been working to get to the next level, to the level that when teams come to play us they’re going to have to be ready,” Powers said. “(Friday), we got to that next level and we feel confident now, whomever we play.”