By Brent Huelsmann
A crazy four days of basketball wrapped up with the Nashville Hornets finishing third in the 57th Annual Mater Dei Christmas Tournament. The tournament featured a very balanced set of teams. Overall eight of the ten teams finished with a 2-2 record in pool play. In Pool A, all five teams finished with a 2-2 record. In Pool B, Briarcrest Christian was the only undefeated team in pool play with a 4-0 record. Metro East Lutheran was the only team of the tournament not to win a game in pool play. Overall five games went to overtime. Okawville got a lot of extra time in, as they played in a four overtime thriller against Mascoutah, and a two overtime thriller against Mater Dei. Mater Dei was no stranger to overtime during the tournament as well. Along with the double overtime game against Okawville, Mater Dei took Briarcrest to three overtimes in pool play. Highland and Central went to overtime in the final game of pool play. Central and Sacred Heart Griffin would go to overtime in the seventh place game of the tournament.
Overall Briarcrest took the tournament title as they bested Highland 28-27 in the championship game. Nashville took third place with a 59-44 win over St. Rt. 127 rival Carlyle. Mater Dei took fifth place with a 56-54 win over Okawville in double overtime. Breese Central finished seventh with a 54-49 win over Sacred Heart Griffin in overtime. Mascoutah finished ninth place with a 65-56 win over Metro East Lutheran.
Nashville 42 Briarcrest 52
The Nashville Hornets got the tournament underway with a 52-42 loss to the top overall seed Briarcrest Christian. Briarcrest, a team out of Memphis, Tennessee, entered the tournament with an undefeated record of 13-0.
A close game for the majority of the contest, the Saints would pull away in the second half for the 10 point win. Briarcrest got the scoring started with a three pointer from Ben Sivils, but the Hornets battled back to take the lead. Nashville would hold their largest lead of the game at 7-4 after a three point basket by Carson Parker. Briarcrest would take the lead towards the end of the first, at 8-7 on a basket by Cedric Henderson, and the Hornets would not regain the lead the rest of the contest.
As the second quarter started, Briarcrest quickly built their lead to eight, but the Hornets again would battle back. Nashville would cut the Saints’ lead to three midway through the quarter, but could not get any closer before the break. At half, Briarcrest led 21-17.
In the third, the Hornets quickly cut it to a two point game, on free throws by Carson Parker, but it would be as close as the Hornets would get the rest of the contest. Briarcrest went on an 8-0 run to gain breathing room, and eventually pushed their lead to 11. Nashville would end the quarter on a 6-2 run to cut the Briarcrest lead to 34-27 with one quarter to play.
In the fourth, the Hornets would never be closer than six as Briarcrest went 10-14 from the charity stripe to close out the ten point win. After the game, coach Wayne Harre talked about his team’s performance. “I thought offensively we just kind of stood around too much, and didn’t have a whole lot of movement. I thought our defense was ok. And then when we got to the rim, they got some size on us and it’s hard to finish sometimes because we’re not that big. Offensively we just didn’t have much movement. We’ve got to get better. It’s a work in progress for us. We know that. We got to make more free throws no question about that, but offensively we didn’t move much.”
Bryce Bultman led Nashville with 16 points in the win. Carson Parker also was in double figures with 11 points, followed by Tanner Bergmann with seven points. Brandon Schnitker and Cameron Parker each finished with three points, and Jake Haley rounded out the scoring with two points.
Nashville 50 Metro East Lutheran 38
The Hornets were back in action on day two of the tournament for their first of two games on the day. The Hornets took the lead early and never trailed as they defeated the Knights 50-38.
Nashville came out on fire in the first as they rushed out to a 6-0 lead. The Hornets would eventually push their lead to 14-2. At the end of the first the Hornets led Metro East Lutheran 18-7. Both Bultman and Bergman scored six points apiece in the frame to lead Nashville.
In the second, the Hornets continued to pour it on as they pushed their lead to 25-9 in the quarter. Leading 25-11 late in the quarter, Carson Parker connected from behind the line to give Nashville a commanding 28-11 halftime lead.
In the second half, Nashville continue the onslaught. Nashville led by as many as 18 in the frame, and would lead 39-22 going into the final stanza.
In the fourth, the Knights outscored the Hornets 16-11 but it was too little too late as Nashville picked up their first win of the tournament. After the game Coach Harre talked about the key being making early free throws. “To make free throws early is a big key and that helped us down the stretch. If we don’t make them it’s gonna be close game. Glad that we did it, but again offensively we have a long way to go. Even defensively the second half we gave up way to many points. We kind of got lulled to sleep there and they hurt us quite a bit.”
The Hornets had the top two scorers in the game with Bultman scoring 17 points, and Carson Parker adding 10 points. Matt Anderson scored seven points in the win, followed by Bergmann with six points. Schnitker and Haley each had four points, and Cameron Parker had two points.
Nashville 56 Sacred Heart Griffin 46
The Hornets won their second game of the day, and moved to 2-1 with a 56-46 win over the Sacred Heart Griffin Cyclones in their third game of the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament. The Cyclones defense gave Nashville fits in the first, as Sacred Heart Griffin held the Hornets scoreless through eight minutes of play. The Cyclones could not get much working offensively in the first, as they only held a 7-0 lead after one quarter. Sacred Heart Griffin shot hust 2-9 from the field in the first, and Hornets coach Harre was happy just to be down seven. “I know we weren’t scoring but our defense kind of carried us til we got our feet on the ground. Maybe it’s not a terrible thing, but I didn’t feel too bad being down 7-0 because we couldn’t get anything going. Being the second game of the day, you’re trying to get some energy back. I thought we were pretty sluggish there, but it was almost like a carryover from the Metro game in the second half, we just couldn’t get nothing going. We just stood around. We didn’t any cuts or anything like that, but I thought we did a better job in the second half, even the second quarter I thought Brandon Schnitker gave us a bit of a lift when he came in and gave us a little energy like he does.”
Nashville finally got on the board in the second quarter, and scored the first two baskets of the frame to cut the Cyclones lead to 7-4. Sacred Heart Griffin would lead by as many as nine in the quarter, but the Hornets would score eight of the final nine points and only trailed 18-14 at halftime.
In the third, the Hornets would continue to chip away at the Cyclones lead. Nashville cut Sacred Heart Griffin’s lead to one point twice, before they finally took the lead with 3:40 remaining in the third. The Hornets would never trail again. The Cyclones would tie the game twice in the third, but never could regain the lead. At the end of three, the Hornets led 33-30.
In the fourth, the Hornets lead would hover between one and four points for most of the frame. With Nashville holding a 41-40 lead, Nashville would go on a 9-1 run to gain breathing room. Down the stretch the Hornets would knock down free throws to put the game out of reach for the Cyclones.
After the game, Harre talked about the second half “I thought we did a good job of running offense. Sometimes it’s a fine line, you’re trying to go to the bucket, we had some good drives. We had some good finishes. I know Bryce had some good finishes, and Jake went in there and scored a couple buckets for us. Again we made good decisions. We cut more, we got more layups, and then we finally hit some shots from the perimeter. It was just a well played game for us the second half.”
Bultman led Nashville with 19 points, one of two Hornets in double figures. Carson Parker added 12 points in the win, followed by Haley and Anderson with nine points apiece. Schnitker added seven points off the bench to round out the scoring for the Hornets.
Nashville 39 Mater Dei 42
Nashville finished out pool play with a close loss to tournament host Mater Dei. The Hornets held the lead for the majority of the contest, but the Knights battled back in the fourth to grab a three point win. With the loss the Hornets finished 2-2 in pool play. Mater Dei and Sacred Heart Griffin each finished 2-2 as well, but due to tiebreakers, the Hornets finished second in Pool B and would play in the third place game.
The Hornets rushed out to an early 11-6 lead in the game, thanks to seven eraly points by Bultman, but Mater Dei bounced back in the second to tie and take the lead at 18-15. Nashville would come back ot score the final seven points of the first half to take a 20-18 lead into the locker room.
As the teams came out for the second half, the Knights quickly tied the game, but could not overtake Nashville. The Hornets used a 5-0 run to take a 25-20 lead over Mater Dei. The Hornets lead would hover between one and four points the rest of the frame. At the end of the quarter, the Hornets held a 31-27 lead. In the fourth, the Knights would come alive late in the game to take their first lead since the second quarter. The Hornets maintained their lead the majority of the quarter, but Mater Dei tied the game at 35, then took the lead at 36-35 and would not trail again. Mater Dei ended the game on a 9-4 run to take the win.
After the game Coach Harre gave the Knights a lot of credit for the win. “They played well, you have to give them a lot of credit. That’s the way things go sometimes. We’ve got to flush this thing and get ready for tomorrow. It’s not going to get any easier.” Harre went on to say, “Tough loss, we played pretty hard, but we just had a couple possessions there where we had a couple turnovers”
Nashville 59 Carlyle 44
It was a battle of to St. Rt. 127 schools for Third Place at Mater Dei as the Indians of Carlyle took on Nashville. The Hornets would come back from a first quarter deficit to defeat the Indians 59-44.
The Hornets tarted out quick in the ball game, taking an 8-4 lead over Carlyle. The Indians would keep battling as they scored eight of the final ten points of the quarter to take a 12-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second, Carlyle continued to lead in the early going. The Indians would lead by as many as five, which would be their largest lead of the game. As soon as the Hornets tied the game at 17, the two teams would go back and forth throught the rest of the first half. The Hornets would score late to take a 29-27 lead at half.
In the second half, Carlyle made a run early to take back the lead. Carlyle would lead 33-31 midway through the quarter, but the Hornets would fight back. Nashville would score the final eight points of the third quarter to lead 39-33 at the end of the frame. The run would continue into the fourth, with the Hornets getting a big three pointer from Haley to cap off the run. After the game Coach Harre talked about the shot to open the final stanza. “That was a big one. Bryce found him and he hit a big shot. They were looking to double him when he drives, and our guards are getting better, they are finding those people, and he hit a big shot there. I thought our offense looked a little better tonight. It’s always been a situation we are always working on. I thought we did a better job tonight than we did the whole tournament.”
The Hornets would continue the momentum throughout the fourth quarter as Carlyle would only get as close as four the rest of the way. Down the stretch the Hornets were able to sink their free throws and prevent Carlyle from making to comeback. After the game Carlyle’s coach Andy Palmer talked about playing from behind. It’s hard to play from behind with them and that’s what we preached. Gotta try to stay ahead because once you get down, they’re so patient offensively, they will spread you out and make good decisions, and have guys who can make free throws. So once we got in that position, it was going to be tough.” Palmer went on to say his team just got out-toughed by the Hornets. “You’ve got to make shots and that’s where we struggled our last three games. We just haven’t shot the ball well. I just thought our last three games we’ve gotten out toughed. Just an example today. The Anderson kid out-toughed us on a couple of rebounds that really turned the game. On a free throw, he out-toughed us, got an extra possession for them. On a possession before the out-toughed us on a rebound we should have had. They’re the ones diving on the floor after the ball, and we’re not. We just have to get tougher, and that’s the bottom line. Defensively I thought we did a decent job. The Haley kid made a couple of threes, which is normally something he doesn’t do, you have to give him credit. We were willing to give that up to slow down Bultman and Parker a little bit, but they do a good job of sharing the ball and finding people that’s something we have to get better at as well.”
Coach Harre was happy with how his team bounced back from the loss to Mater Dei. “Both teams I thought played pretty well, offensively I mean. The ball went in the basket, so that’s good. It’s a good finish. We had a tough game last
night. To bounce back like that and play a game like that is pretty impressive for our kids.”
Bultman led Nashville with 15 points in the win, as the Hornets finished with three players in double figures. Nashville got 12 points from Haley all of which came in the second half. Carson Parker added ten points, followed by Anderson with seven points. Schnitker came off the bench to score six points in the second quarter, including going 4-4 from the charity stripe. Cameron Parker added five points, and Bergmann rounded out the scoring with four points.
For images from the Hornettes at the Mascoutah Tournament and the Hornets at Mater Dei, look here.