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Royals' road swag too much for Spartans

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SHELBYVILLE — In the past 10 days, Eastern Hancock has thrice proven that its rejuvenated program is one to be reckoned with.

The Royals toppled previously unbeaten Class 2A No. 10 Lapel on Dec. 11. Three days later, EH ended a seven-year winless drought against rival Knightstown.

Friday night, the Royals picked up their third signature win in four games — and their fifth straight victory — by beating Class A No. 8 Southwestern 65-59.

Coach Jeremy Powers’ squad improved to 2-2 in Mid-Hoosier Conference play with its first-ever MHC road victory, and handed the Spartans their first conference loss of the year.

“We’ve talked about getting a moxie, a swag on the road,” explained the second-year coach, who added that EH was previously winless at Southwestern. “I said you can get that now if you get a conference win on the road.”

It was the second consecutive triumph for Eastern Hancock against Southwestern, which lost 43-38 in Charlottesville last season. The Spartans went on to advance to semistate.

The Royals proved they belonged on the same court as Southwestern right from the start.

EH point guard Kiersten Schrope, Hancock’s County assist leader (5.6 per game) entering Friday, dished out three helpers early to spur the visitors to an 8-2 lead.

Despite eight points and four rebounds by Oda Shackelford — who didn’t play in last season’s meeting between the teams — the Royals were out in front 20-16 after eight minutes of play.

EH led 35-26 at intermission, with five different players scoring in the second quarter.

In addition to Shackelford, Southwestern’s other notable offensive weapon is point guard Annie Thomas, who is good for just over 19 points and nearly seven assists per contest.

The Royals hounded the junior all night, using a full-court press and a 1-2-2 half-court zone to keep Thomas out of the lane as much as possible.

Powers subbed as liberally as a hockey coach throughout, exchanging players to ensure fresh legs were ready to hassle Thomas.

“We feel like that with any opponent we play, we have more depth than they do,” said Powers, whose team had a hand in most of Southwestern’s 18 turnovers. “We knew that if we could speed them up and make them work, they were going to struggle to stay with us for 32 minutes.”

Southwestern posted a 17-13 advantage in the third quarter to close the margin to 48-43, but six points by Kristin Eischen less than four minutes into the final frame stretched EH’s advantage to 57-47.

The Royals spent much of the latter half of the fourth at the charity stripe, as the tiring Spartans were forced to foul. EH finished 12-of-17 from the line.

“They executed the game plan to perfection,” Powers said of his team. “I thought the game went as well as it could have, probably better than I expected.”

Eischen had a season-high 20 points. The junior forward — tied for the county lead with 7.6 rebounds a game — snared nine boards.

“Eischen played as hard as I’ve seen her play all year,” Powers noted. “We’ve been trying to work on keeping her focused from the start. … If she can play like that every night, a lot of teams are going to have a hard time beating us.”

Schrope, whom Powers refers to as a “stat-stuffer,” added 11 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. She has scored in double digits in all but one game this season.

Hannah Best (10 points) and Kaytlin Eastes (eight points,  nine rebounds) added to the win.

Eastern Hancock (9-3) dominated the glass, outrebounding Southwestern 46-21 while grabbing 16 offensive boards.

Thomas paced Southwestern (9-2, 4-1 MHC) with 25 points and five assists. Shackelford tallied 12 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Next on the docket for EH is Greenfield-Central (3-7). The Cougars will travel to Charlottesville for the team’s 10 a.m. matchup in the semifinals of Thursday’s Hancock County Tournament.

The winner moves on to the finals in G-C’s main gymnasium at 6 p.m. to take on the Mt. Vernon-New Palestine victor.The consolation game in the G-C fieldhouse at 6 p.m.

“We’re playing with total confidence right now. We feel we can compete with anybody,” Powers commented. “We’ve done a great job of focusing on one game at a time.”

Notes: Southwestern, which had won three consecutive games, lost 54-51 to Northeast Dubois at last season’s semistate. … Thomas has scored in double figures in 10 of the Spartans’ 11 games. … G-C’s game against Lebanon (8-2) was postponed Friday. … EH won the JV game 29-10. Hope Spaulding had eight points.



Eastern Hancock 65, Southwestern 59

EH — Schrope 4-17 2-5 11, Eischen 9-15 2-2 20, Best 3-14 3-4 10, Eastes 4-5 0-0 8, Harmon 2-7 0-0 5, Marshall 1-3 2-2 4, Mourey 2-5 0-0 4, Neisler 0-1 1-2 1, Overleese 0-1 2-2 2, Dickey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals — 25-69 12-17 65.

SW — Thomas 9-20 5-6 25, Shackelford 6-12 0-0 12, Eversole 6-15 1-4 13, Tennell 2-2 0-1 5, Kistler 1-3 0-0 2, Temple 1-1 0-1 2, Fix 0-2 0-2 0. Totals — 25-55 6-14 59.


SW (9-2, 4-1) 20 15 13 17 — 65

EH (9-3, 2-2) 16 10 17 16 — 59

Three-pt. field goals: EH 3-12 (Schrope 1-5, Best 1-5, Harmon 1-1, Dickey 0-1), SW 3-9 (Thomas 2-7, Tennell 1-1, Kistler 0-1).

  Rebounds: EH 46 (Schrope 8, Eischen 9, Eastes 9, Harmon 3, Marshall 7, Mourey 4, Neisler 3, Overleese 2, Best 1), SW 21 (Thomas 1, Shackelford 9, Eversole 4, Kistler 3, Temple 2, Fix 2). Assists: EH 14 (Schrope 8, Marshall 1, Mourey 3, Neisler 1, Eischen 1), SW 7 (Thomas 5, Eversole 1, Tennell 1). Steals: EH 12 (Schrope 2, Eischen 3, Harmon 2, Eastes 2, Mourey 2, Overleese 1), SW 6 (Thomas 1, Shackelford 1, Eversole 2, Tennell 1, Temple 1). Blocks: EH 5 (Schrope 1, Eischen 3, Eastes 1), SW 4 (Shackelford 2, Eversole 2). Total fouls: EH 19, SW 17. Fouled out: Shackelford (SW). Turnovers: EH 16, SW 18


EH 29, Southwestern 10

EH — Spaulding 8, Lee 2, Mo. Mench 6, M. Lewis 2, E. Schrope 2, E. Lewis 5, Me. Mench 4.

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