CHARLOTTESVILLE — It was the highest scoring game of the season and the most points scored by the Eastern Hancock boys basketball team since an early sectional game during last year’s tournament run that reached the Class 2A semi-state.
Even a 25-point win — and running-clock timing after taking a 35-point lead — didn’t lead to a lot of high-fives and celebration following Tuesday’s Mid-Eastern Conference victory over visiting Randolph Southern.
The sixth-ranked Royals had three players score 20 or more points in an 86-61 win over the Rebels, the most points scored since a 92-43 first-round tournament win last year over Union County. It was their fifth straight win since their lone loss to unbeaten Class 4A New Palestine.
“This group, and it’s a good trait, they’re just never satisfied,” Eastern Hancock coach Aaron Spaulding said. “They were kind of right with me. Our heads were down when I got (in the locker room). It didn’t feel real good, but that’s what I love about them. They’re never satisfied and always want to do better. That’s what does them well.”
Jacob Spaulding led the Royals with 23 points. Silas Spaulding had 21 and Grant Gray added 20. Eastern Hancock hit 11 3-pointers, but the number on the other side of the scoreboard was the one that gave them some disappointment and motivation to work on as the season moves on.
“We gave up way too many points,” Silas Spaulding said. “We want (our opponents) in the 30s and 40s. Scoring 86 is fine, but that’s way too much (for the other team).”
In the five wins prior to Tuesday’s game, Eastern had given up just 30.8 points per game. Only New Palestine, a 62-53 winner over the Royals earlier this month, has scored more.
“If we would have won by 25 but the score was 45-20, I think we would have felt a little bit different, like our shots aren’t falling but we played good defense,” Jacob Spaulding said. “….We’ve got to really buckle down on defense and make sure we work on what we need to do.”
The Rebels stayed with the Royals until early in the second quarter.
When Randolph Southern senior guard Wyatt Saylor, the Rebels leading scorer with 21 points, scored with 6:14 remaining in the second quarter, he cut Eastern Hancock’s lead to six, 23-17.
“(Randolph Southern) has some good players,” coach Aaron Spaulding added. “I don’t think we came out of the chute like I would have liked us to. I don’t think we were quite as focused as we’ve been a lot of times.”
The Royals answered with a 17-2 run. Silas Spaulding hit a pair of 3s. Kayden Ruble had a pair of putbacks and a couple of free throws, and Jacob Spaulding scored and was fouled, in transition, for a conventional three-point play. He added another bucket off a steal.
Eastern scored 47 first-half points. Silas Spaulding, on an assist from his twin brother, scored with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter to give the Royals an 83-47 lead and running clock.
“We, obviously, did some good things,” the coach added. “We did a nice job making the extra pass and getting good shots on the perimeter. I was pretty pleased with us offensively, though we turned the ball over, for us, way too much. Defensively, I don’t think we were quite as active, but they have some kids that can shoot the ball.”
Along with the three 20-point scorers, Ruble finished with 12.
“We are really hard to guard, especially when we get the ball moving and make that one extra pass,” coach Spaulding said. “I probably need to focus on the good. As a coach, you’re always thinking about, ‘we didn’t do this very good, we didn’t do that very good.’ But, I thought we did a nice job moving the ball. It really led to some easy shots.”
The Royals are 6-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play. The Rebels dropped to 4-3 and 1-1 in the MEC.
Eastern Hancock will play in the Bob Wettig Tournament in Richmond, Dec. 27-28. It opens on Tuesday with an 11 a.m. game against Bloomington South at IU-East. At 3 p.m., also on Tuesday, and at Richmond High School, the Royals will play North Decatur.
Eastern Hancock 86, Randolph Southern 61
Randolph Southern (4-3, 1-1): Ian Vance 0 0-0 0, Elijah Allen 6 3-4 16, Joe Burke 6 1-2 14, Noah Allen 3 2-3 10, Wyatt Saylor 8 0-0 21, Brady Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Trenton Jeffries 0 0-0 0, Jamie Pegg 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 6-9 61.
Eastern Hancock (6-1, 3-0): Grant Gray 8 0-0 20, Edric Miller 3 1-2 8, Kayden Ruble 4 3-5 12, Jacob Spaulding 9 3-3 23, Silas Spaulding 7 4-4 21, Luke Morris 1 0-0 2, Jayden Stine 0 0-0 0, Charlie Halcomb 0 0-0 0, Caiden Willis 0 0-0 0, Eli Manship 0 0-0 0, Luke Schilling 0 0-0 0. Totals: 32 11-14 86.
3-point goals: Randolph Southern 9 (Saylor 5, N. Allen 2, E. Allen, Burke); Eastern Hancock 11 (Gray 4, S. Spaulding 3, J. Spaulding 2, Miller, Ruble)