CHARLOTTESVILLE — For the first time in a long time, the Eastern Hancock girls basketball team was tested.

After seven wins of at least 20 points, and a nine-point victory over Triton Central early in the season, Tuesday night’s thrilling 55-53 overtime win against North Decatur showed that the Royals can compete in close, hard-fought games.

But although they escaped with the victory, there was plenty for head coach Shari Doud and the coaching staff to take away from the game that might be even more important than the final score.

“By all means, we took away some things that were glaring that we need to work on. We got rattled a lot mentally, and that’s good for us,” Doud said. “Coming into this 8-0 with a big target on our chest, it was a good test against a well-coached team. We did escape with a win, but we’re going to take away some lessons and some things that we need to work on if we’re going to be a really good team.”

It took four overtime leads for the Royals to earn the win.

Eastern Hancock took a 50-47 lead early in overtime on a Ruby White basket and free throw, but the Chargers answered. A White free throw with 1:36 left put the Royals back up, but a free throw from North Decatur’s Madi Allen tied it back up with 35 seconds remaining.

A Kenzie Koch layup put Eastern Hancock back in front again, but a pair of Ella Kunz free throws with 13 seconds on the clock tied it again, 53-53.

With 6.4 seconds left, the Royals scored the go-ahead basket, and this time it stuck.

After breaking the North Decatur pressure, Sydney Springman broke free under the basket to receive the pass and score the game-winning layup.

“I saw a lot of unselfishness. Sydney sat virtually the entire second half. You put a kid in that has sat that long and she hits a big layup, you think to yourself, ‘Well dang, maybe you should’ve had her in the rest of the half,’” Doud said. “We just had matchup issues tonight, that’s why certain people were on the floor more than others.”

The Royals had chances to win in regulation, but late turnovers let the Chargers force overtime.

With 13 seconds on the clock and up two, a turnover by the Royals on an inbounds pass led to the game-tying basket.

After two missed shots, North Decatur’s Clare Kinker found the ball under the hoop for the layup in the closing seconds.

“North Decatur is a super physical team, and they play hard defensively,” Doud said. “I knew they would give us some trouble from that standpoint.”

After leading 9-4 after the opening eight minutes, the Royals were outscored 20-11 in the second quarter and trailed until the 6:15 mark of the fourth period.

With White in foul trouble in the middle quarters, the Chargers center, Kunz, dominated.

She scored 11 second-quarter points and added six more in the third. On the night, she led all scorers with 22 points.

With White in the game, though, she was limited to just three points, and in the fourth quarter, White blocked three of her shots to keep the Royals ahead. On the night, she finished with five blocks in limited minutes.

“She [White] was huge tonight. We didn’t have any other answers otherwise. We had kids play as hard as they could against her [Kunz], but they were way undersized. That girl was strong and physical,” Doud said. “When Ruby wasn’t out we were really in trouble, but she made it through the game for the most part. We missed Ellie [Meyer] and her size tonight who was out with a rolled ankle because she would’ve been a big help against their size.”

The Royals were led offensively by Koch with 21 points, while White added 10 and Makenzie O’Neal had eight.

A big help for the offense, though, was Sammie Bolding.

In just her second game this season, she knocked down three 3-pointers, including a game-tying trey early in the fourth quarter. She scored eight of her 12 points in the second half to help the Royals fight back.

“It just provides another punch. It takes pressure off of Ruby and McKenzie,” Doud said. “Having a third dominant scorer along with role players that can still score six or seven points a game makes for a pretty special group.”

The Royals will look to stay unbeaten Saturday at home against Cathedral.

Eastern Hancock 55, North Decatur 53

North Decatur;4;20;14;9;6;53

Eastern Hancock;9;11;17;10;8;55

North Decatur (5-4): Madi Allen 5 4-6 14, Ella Kunz 7 8-10 22, Kelsey Haley 2 0-0 5, Sydney Rohls 1 0-0 2, Clare Kinker 2 4-4 8, Ally Whitaker 1 0-0 2, Kacey Barker 0 0-0 0, Carmen Thackery 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 16-20 53.

Eastern Hancock (9-0): Kenzie Koch 8 3-3 21, Ruby White 4 2-3 10, Makenzie O’Neal 3 1-3 8, Sammie Bolding 4 1-2 12, Sydney Springman 2 0-0 4, Brooklyn Willis 0 0-0 0, Camryn Andrus 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 7-11 55.

3-point goals: North Decatur 1 (Haley); Eastern Hancock 6 (Bolding 3, Koch 2, O’Neal)