A Royal Rout: Eastern Hancock dominates Hagerstown, 71-44

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Eastern Hancock's Landon O'Neal post up to shoot against Hagerstown on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

CHARLOTTESVILLE — There’s nothing like a little momentum to take into the postseason.

That’s what Eastern Hancock has.

The Royals won for the ninth time in their last 10 games with a senior night victory over visiting Hagerstown, 71-44, Friday.

Eight of the nine wins have been by double figures.

“We’ve had some good wins. We had a good win Tuesday night (against Class 4A Pendleton Heights). We’ve beat some good teams,” Eastern Hancock coach Aaron Spaulding said. “It’s always nice to be on a roll going into the sectional.”

Against the Tigers, the Royals started all five of their seniors. Zach Arnold, Isaac Lewis and Cyrus Burton joined regular starters Landon O’Neal and Cole Rainbolt for the opening tip-off.

Lewis’s first shot of his first start was a successful baseline 3-pointer.

It was the first of seven first-half treys. The Royals made seven more in the last two quarters. Nine players scored and eight players had at least one 3-pointer.

“Probably, our biggest attribute is we’ve got so many kids that have the ability to go off on a certain night,” coach Spaulding said. “We’re very balanced, scoring-wise. We’ve probably had seven kids score in double figures various times. It could be anybody on a given night. That’s been a strength of our team all year and it didn’t change tonight.”

While the Royals have been moving in the right direction, the Tigers dropped their seventh straight and eighth in their last nine games.

They were led in scoring by senior Gabe Warvel and freshman Kaagan Kendall with 12 points each.

Eastern Hancock started the game with the first nine points. Hagerstown did not score until 2:38 remained in the opening period, a Kadence Roman bucket.

At the half, the Royals led 34-12. They scored the final 15 points of the second period. Seven of the nine Royals that played in the opening 16 minutes scored and five different players had at least one 3-pointer.

In the second half, the Royals picked up where they left off. Eastern Hancock had the first 10 points of the third quarter to extend its run to 25 points.

For the game, the Royals hit 14 of 32 3’s (43.8 percent). They were 5 of 8 (62.5 percent) in the third quarter.

O’Neal led the way with 14 points. Burton had 12. Jacob Spaulding scored 10 and Rainbolt finished with nine and a team-high three 3-pointers.

“We’ve got (momentum) at the perfect time,” O’Neal said. “It’s important to go in to the sectional with a bunch of momentum, and that’s really what we’re doing. Two big wins, back-to-back. That’s always good.”

Seniors Lewis and Arnold contributed five and two points, respectively.

Along with starting the game, the five seniors were back on the floor together in the fourth quarter. Coach Spaulding subbed them out one by one, giving each one a home-court curtain call, which was to the pleasure of the large Royal fan base in attendance.

“It was awesome (playing with my classmates) and seeing everyone supporting us and hearing everybody cheer for you,” O’Neal said. “There’s really no place like (Eastern Hancock).”

Additionally for the Royals, Edric Miller scored nine. Silas Spaulding had seven and Grant Gray contributed three points.

Eastern Hancock and Hagerstown are two of the eight teams in next week’s Class 2A Sectional 41 tournament hosted by Hagerstown.

Hagerstown (6-17) will play in Tuesday’s second quarterfinal game against Knightstown (6-14). Eastern Hancock (17-5) faces Union County (6-15) in the first of two quarterfinal games Wednesday at 6 p.m.

The Royals won at Union County on Jan. 29, 85-33. Hagerstown lost a close game at Knightstown on Feb. 19, 51-46.

Next Friday’s semifinal games are slated to be played at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The championship contest is Saturday, March 5.

Eastern Hancock 71, Hagerstown 44

Hagerstown;8;4;15;17;—;44

Eastern Hancock;17;17;24;13;—;71

Hagerstown (6-17): Kadence Roman 2 0-0 4, Joey Auker 0 0-1 0, Kaagan Kendall 4 4-4 12, Mason Romack 1 0-0 2, Gabe Warvel 4 3-3 12, Braydon Favorite 4 0-1 8, Carter Jenkins 1 3-4 5, Cole Tracy 0 1-2 1. Totals: 16 11-15 44.

Eastern Hancock (17-5): Landon O’Neal 6 0-0 14, Cole Rainbolt 3 0-0 9, Cyrus Burton 4 2-2 12, Zach Arnold 1 0-0 2, Isaac Lewis 2 0-0 5, Jacob Spaulding 4 0-0 10, Silas Spaulding 2 1-2 7, Edric Miller 3 2-3 9, Grant Gray 1 0-0 3, Jayden Stine 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 5-7 71.

3-point goals: Hagerstown 1 (Warvel); Eastern Hancock 14 (Rainbolt 3, O’Neal 2, Burton 2, S. Spaulding 2, J. Spaulding 2, Lewis, Miller, Gray)