CHARLOTTESVILLE — Seniors, a championship, team and individual records, there was a lot to celebrate at Eastern Hancock High School Tuesday.
On Senior Night, Eastern Hancock’s lone seniors, Emma Bolding and Grace Stapleton, led the Royals to their first conference championship since 1999.
Bolding and Stapleton were co-leading scorers with 20 points each in an Eastern Hancock 67-43 victory over visiting Randolph Southern.
It was a career-high for Bolding —nearly three times more than her scoring average of 7.2 points per game —while Stapleton’s last of six 3-pointers made her the program’s all-time leader in made 3’s with 189.
In addition, the victory was the team’s 18th, tying a school record for most wins in a single season. It had been done twice before and most recently in the 2001-2002 season.
“I couldn’t have scripted this any better than it turned out,” Eastern Hancock head coach Shari Doud said. “Our two seniors led us in scoring. It worked out really cool. They have impacted this program for four years. Grace has been a starter for four years and Emma logged minutes as a freshman and has just continued to progress and is having a great senior year.
“It ended just exactly the way we would have wanted it to end for them.”
Bolding scored all 20 of her points in the final three quarters. She hit 8 of 13 (61.5 percent) field-goal attempts and all four of her tries at the free-throw line. She hit eight of her last 11 shots. Stapleton had 14 second-half points. She hit 6 of 13 (46.2 percent) 3-point tries after missing on her first three attempts.
With 1:53 left in the game, Doud pulled her two standouts off the floor.
Bolding was subbed for by her sister, Sammie Bolding, a junior, who is normally a starter. Sammie Bolding had not played the entire game, resting a slight injury, but came in to give her sister a big hug as she left the EH floor for the final time.
Stapleton was subbed for by her good friend and softball teammate Brooklyn Willis.
When the seniors checked out. They went to midcourt and gave the EH logo a kiss goodbye.
It’s a tradition that was started last season. Doud is a fan of Michigan State’s men’s basketball program and it’s something the Spartans do on their senior night.
“Coach (Doud) loves Michigan State and that’s a tradition they do,” Stapleton said. “She texted us and said we’re making this a tradition (at Eastern Hancock). It might seem kind of cheesy, but it actually does mean a lot. This is where we’ve been the last four years. It’s been a second home.”
It was an emotional night for the two seniors, their teammates and coaches.
“It’s like going out with a bang,” Emma Bolding said, after pausing to collect herself. “This is just hitting me now … getting 20 is just crazy. All in all, it was a great night on the last game at home. We won conference.”
It was the first conference title in the Mid-Eastern Conference and fourth overall.
The 1999 championship was in the White River Athletic Conference. Eastern Hancock won league crowns in 1985 and 1986 in the Big Blue River Conference. The Royals joined the MEC in 2017.
Since the Royals won 18 games in the 2001-02 season, they’ve won 17 four times. Doud’s team went 17-7 last season. Her club was 17-8 in 2015-16. In 2012-13 and 2013-14, Eastern Hancock went 17-5.
“You see (Senior Night) and are involved in it as a freshman. You’re not really waiting for it to happen, because it’s really bittersweet,” Stapleton said. “We’ve seen the same fans here since we were freshmen, we’ve taken our journey together.
“For us both (to have 20 points) on Senior Night, that’s really cool.”
The Royals are 18-3 overall and finish MEC play unbeaten at 9-0. They’ve won 11 straight conference games. Randolph Southern is 12-7 and end league play 6-3.
Eastern Hancock plays its final regular-season game Thursday at Tri. The Titans are 21-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 1A.
Eastern Hancock 67, Randolph Southern 43
Randolph Southern (12-7, 6-3): Allie Black 0 0-2 0, Haleigh Allen 1 2-4 4, Courtney Clear 1 0-0 2, Kaibre Stephan 5 4-7 15, Brianna Smith 8 5-6 22, Melody Black 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 11-19 43.
Eastern Hancock (18-3, 9-0): Emma Bolding 8 4-4 20, Makenzie O’Neal 4 0-0 9, Ruby White 2 2-2 6, Brooklyn Willis 2 2-2 6, Grace Stapleton 7 0-0 20, Sydney Springman 0 0-0 0, Ellie Meyer 2 0-0 4, Camryn Andrus 1 0-0 2, Kiresten Judd 0 0-0 0, Sammie Bolding 0 0-0 0, Lainee Parker 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 8-8 67.
3-point goals: Randolph Southern 2 (Stephan, Smith); Eastern Hancock 7 (Stapleton 6, O’Neal)