FAIRLAND — If Eastern Hancock’s Tuesday night quarterfinal win over Scecina was revenge for last season, Friday night’s win was revenge for a loss just over a month ago.

On Jan. 27, the Royals fell 48-28 to Triton Central on their home court.

In a game with much bigger stakes, it was the Royals returning the favor.

At Triton Central, Eastern Hancock (14-10) knocked off the host Tigers (16-7) 54-41 in the semifinals of Sectional 42.

“The maturity that this team has shown this year, to be in this spot, against this team, on their home floor in a sectional semifinal, to just be able to play and gradually execute and get stops was awesome,” head coach Brett Bechtel said. “It’s a toughness thing. You just keep getting better every day, and eventually, it pays off in something like this. With all this being said, It’s a great win, but the only thing that matters is 24 hours from now. We can be happy and celebrate, but to be honest, now we care about [Saturday] night.”

After a back-and-forth opening quarter, a Triton Central run midway through the second quarter made things 25-16 in its favor, and had things shaping up to be another double-digit Tigers win.

The Royals had different plans.

Capped off by an Eli Manship putback at the halftime buzzer, Eastern Hancock ended the quarter on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to three entering the break.

Out of the half, the Royals took full control.

They began the third quarter on a 15-0 run and outscored the Tigers 15-2 in the period to grab a 39-29 lead entering the fourth.

A Kayden Ruble offensive board and layup kick-started both the run and a big second half for the Royals center.

He scored 12 points in the second half and was the focal point of the Royals offense. Nine of his team-high 17 points came in the final quarter to help seal the win.

“Number 43,” Bechtel said about the team’s key offensively. “Ruble is just so hard to defend. They can throw big bodies at him, he just gets down there and works and works and works. We keep pounding it into him like it’s smash-mouth football and eventually we get a cutter or somebody open for a wide-open 3.”

A Charlie Halcomb steal and layup gave the Royals the lead 28-27 just over a minute into the third quarter and he added to the lead with a 3-pointer just a few minutes later.

A Royals offensive board leading to a Caiden Willis layup pushed the lead even more before another Halcomb 3 put the Royals ahead by double digits, 37-27.

“We try to talk about our motto being TTW – Tougher Teams Win. It was going to take a lot of that to win here against a really good team,” Bechtel said. “We were down nine and were just poised and played with composure. We played through their runs and played through our runs, and it took a lot of toughness to be able to execute.”

It wasn’t just the offensive side of the floor that the Royals dominated in the third quarter. Defensively, they held Triton Central to zero made baskets and just a pair of free throws in the quarter.

A Silas Blair 3-point play with 6:48 left in the game was the Tigers first made field goal of the half.

“We’re not going to score a million points, we’re just not that team,” Bechtel said. “We’re the group that’s going to do the dirtier, tougher things. We’re going to get stops, take charges, and get offensive boards.”

Leading the charge on defense — as he does on most nights — was senior guard Luke Morris. He held the Tigers leading scorer, Eli Sego, to 11 points, down from his season average of 17.3. Five of Sego’s points came in the fourth with the game out of reach.

“He’s [Morris] so tough and so good. He just does so much for us. He was hurt in that first game against them and he couldn’t really move. I had to take him out three or four times and I never take Luke Morris out of the game,” Bechtel said. “No matter what, we’ll always give everybody our best shot and January 27 was not our best shot, this was the real us.”

Along with Ruble’s 17, Willis and Halcomb scored 11, and Luke Schilling scored nine to lead Eastern Hancock.

Blair led the Tigers with 17.

The Royals play Irvington Prep tonight at 7 p.m. at Triton Central in the championship game.

Eastern Hancock 54, Triton Central 41

Eastern Hancock;14;10;15;15; — 54

Triton Central;16;11;2;12; —41

Eastern Hancock (14-10): Kayden Ruble 7 2-4 17, Caiden Willis 5 1-3 11, Luke Morris 1 1-2 4, Charlie Halcomb 4 0-0 11, Luke Schilling 3 1-2 9, Caden Powers 0 0-0 0, Garrett Shaw 0 0-0 0, Eli Manship 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 5-11 54.

Triton Central (16-7): Eli Sego 4 3-4 11, Silas Blair 5 6-8 17, Max Crouse 3 0-0 7, Sam Collier 1 0-0 2, Taggart Goul 1 0-1 2, Sam Kemper 1 0-0 2, Gavin Morgan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 9-13 41.

3-point goals: Eastern Hancock 7 (Halcomb 3, Schilling 2, Morris, Ruble); Triton Central 2 (Blair, Crouse).