SHELBYVILLE — Eastern Hancock’s dream of playing in and winning a state championship girls basketball game came to an end Saturday.

One win away from qualifying for the Class 2A IHSAA Girls Basketball State Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Royals, ranked No. 3 in the final Class 2A Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association poll, lost 45-29 to No. 15 Brownstown Central in the championship game of the Shelbyville Semi-State at William L. Garrett Memorial Gymnasium.

Led by one of the strongest class of seniors — athletically and academically — to ever play at Eastern Hancock High School, and a talented freshman point guard, the Royals won a school-record 25 games, along with Mid-Eastern Conference, Scecina Sectional and Southmont Regional titles.

They won Saturday’s opener, the second of two semifinal games, 62-54 in overtime against Sheridan, to earn a spot in the state’s Final Four, but hot-shooting Brownstown Central and fatigue from the earlier game was too much to overcome.

Brownstown Central got to the title game by winning Saturday morning’s first semifinal game, 48-41, over No. 18 Linton-Stockton.

But, what a journey the Royals had, especially the team’s five seniors — Sammie Bolding, Makenzie O’Neal, Sydney Springman, Ruby White and Brooklyn Willis. The quintet combined to play in over 450 varsity games over four seasons.

They won back-to-back conference, sectional and regional championships, the only two regional championships in school history.

And, all five are part of the school’s “All A’s” honor roll.

“We’ve been sisters since we all could run and barely even pick the ball up off the ground,” White said of her classmates. “The end is heartbreaking, but you wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anybody else by your side.”

Head coach Shari Doud in her 20th season as a head coach, and eighth leading Eastern Hancock, said it’s the best senior class she’s ever had.

“It’s been an honor to be part of their lives on and off the floor,” Doud said. “Having five seniors is not always common, but all five have been amazing. We made history two years in a row. I told them to hold their heads high when they walked out of the locker room. They have absolutely nothing to look back on and say, ‘I wish I would have …’ There’s nothing for them to regret about anything they’ve done, just the most special group of seniors.”

Early in Saturday’s title game, the Royals were going shot-for-shot with the Braves.

Bolding opened the game with a 3-pointer. After a Brownstown trey, Bolding found White for a bucket and a two-point Eastern Hancock lead. Brownstown sharpshooter Harley Toppe and Bolding traded triples before White assisted O’Neal for a 10-6 advantage.

Following a pair of Brownstown free throws, O’Neal scored on a White assist. She returned the favor, finding White with a short baseline jumper. It gave Eastern Hancock a 14-8 lead with 1:20 remaining in the opening period.

Brownstown then displayed a preview of what was to come.

Just off the Braves’ bench, Addison Darlage and Mallory Klosterman each hit from three-point range to tie the game, 14-14, to end the quarter.

Brownstown Central hit nine 3-pointers on the night, and were, unofficially, 9 of 19 (47.4 percent) from downtown.

Bolding and Darlage traded treys to start the second quarter and Kenzie Koch, the frosh guard and Eastern’s leading scorer throughout the season, had one of her patented drives for a 19-17 lead.

Koch’s two-pointer happened at the five-minute mark of the second quarter and would be Eastern Hancock’s last points of the half, and last field goal until O’Neal scored a bucket with 2:56 left in the fourth quarter.

There were five free throws in between the two field goals. O’Neal’s bucket cut the Brownstown lead to 40-26.

Toppe, a sophomore, had five of Brownstown’s nine treys. Off the bench, Darlage and Klosterman each had two.

“They were very patient and very disciplined in their defensive schemes,” Doud said of the Braves. “And, collectively, they crashed the boards as hard as any team we played all year. They sent five players to the boards and made it rough for us to rebound.

“They were a step ahead of us a lot in the second half, were patient offensively and shot the ball well. They are one of the those teams that didn’t have that one star, they had five solid players.”

Eastern Hancock trailed 23-19 at halftime. Toppe grabbed a loose ball and scored to give Brownstown a 25-19 lead. She hit her fourth 3 of the game for a 28-19 lead and after an Eastern Hancock timeout, Toppe hit No. 5 for a 31-19 advantage with 4:22 left in the third quarter.

Playing the second of two games, and going overtime to win it, the Royals just didn’t have anything left.

“The first quarter, I didn’t see that it showed,” Doud said of her team’s fatigue. “About midway through the second I saw glimpses of fatigue, and the second half was just a struggle. The gas tank started showing the warning sign and we needed to fill up.”

“A two-game deal like this, I think the IHSAA needs to revisit (the format). Win or lose, Brownstown Central had to play two games, too, and it’s hard, and they won. We played two games, too, and we lost. Neither team should win or lose having to play two games (in one day).”

Toppe led Brownstown Central with 19 points. Darlage and Kinzie Dean each had eight points.

Brownstown Central (20-9) will play Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (19-6) for the Class 2A title this Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

Bolding led Eastern Hancock with 10 points. O’Neal had eight points, Koch seven and White finished with four.

“All you can say at this point is, ‘We had an amazing run and I’m proud of every single girl,’” Willis said. “There’s nothing to hang our heads about. We created history and left our mark here at Eastern Hancock.”

Brownstown Central 45, Eastern Hancock 29

Brownstown Central;14;9;10;12;—;45

Eastern Hancock;14;5;3;7;—;29

Brownstown Central (21-8): Harley Toppe 6 2-2 19, Kinzie Dean 2 4-6 8, Sophie Wischmeier 0 2-4 2, Kelsey Schneider 0 0-0 0, Jenna Klosterman 0 2-2 2, Mallory Klosterman 2 0-0 6, Addison Darlage 2 2-2 8, Hailey Hobson 0 0-0 0, Jada Miller 0 0-0 0, Claire Brock 0 0-0 0, Kassie Helton 0 0-0 0, Kassidy Wischmeier 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 12-16 45.

Eastern Hancock (25-2): Brooklyn Willis 0 0-0 0, Makenzie O’Neal 3 2-2 8, Ruby White 2 0-0 4, Sammie Bolding 3 1-2 10, Kenzie Koch 2 3-3 7, Ellie Meyer 0 0-0 0, Sydney Springman 0 0-0 0, Camryn Andrus 0 0-0 0, Bella Sotelo 0 0-0 0, Lainee Parker 0 0-0 0. Totals: 10 6-7 29.

3-point goals: Brownstown Central 9 (Toppe 5, M. Klosterman 2, Darlage 2). Eastern Hancock 3 (Bolding 3).