Matt Anderson lays the ball in the hoop during the Hornets 40-28 win over Okawville on January 6.
By Brent Huelsmann
Coming off of a third place finish at the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament, the Nashville Hornets opened up a tough two game homestand against two of the better schools in Southern Illinois. It was rivalry weekend for the Hornets as they took on the Pinckneyville Panthers on January 5, and the Okawville Rockets on January 6. The Hornets would split the two contests as they fell to Pinckneyville, but bounced back to beat Okawville. Nashville’s record is 11-5 on the season.
Nashville got the new year started with a huge game against SIRR Conference Rival Pinckneyville. Both teams came into the matchup with undefeated records in conference play, and both teams were coming off third place finishes in Holiday Tournaments. The Hornets led the majority of the contest, but could not stave off a fourth quarter rally from the Panthers and fell 45-38.
Nashville got off to the quick start as Bryce Bultman knocked down a three to give the Hornets the lead. Nashville would lead by as many as nine early on, but Pinckneyville would score the final three points of the frame to cut the Hornets lead to 12-6 after one quarter of play.
In the second the Hornets and Pinckneyville would go back and forth trading baskets. The Panthers would cut the Hornets lead to one midway through the frame, but Nashville would pull back away. The Hornets would quickly push the lead back to five and be able to sustain the lead as halftime approached. The Hornets led 26-19 with time winding down, but the Panthers would get a basket at the buzzer to cut the Hornets halftime lead to 26-21.
After the break, both offenses struggled. The first points of the quarter were scored with 2:38 in the frame. Pinckneyville would cut the Hornets lead to 26-23, but again the Hornets made a run. Nashville would score the next six points to take a 32-23 lead, but again Pinckneyville would score late to cut Nashville’s lead to 32-26 with one quarter of play.
In the fourth, the Hornets were able to hold onto the lead for a lot of the frame, but the Panthers broke through with 2:20 remaining to take their first lead of the game. The Hornets would not lead the rest of the way. Down the stretch the Panthers would make 10-12 free throws to put the game away. After the contest, Panthers coach Bob Waggoner talked about free throws. “Gotta make free throws. We were 18-21, that’s the difference in the ball game.”
After the game, Hornets coach Wayne Harre also chimed in on the fourth quarter. “We just got to get better down the stretch. Coaches talked about it at the end of the game, we just have to make some plays down the stretch and if we do that we will be a pretty dangerous team.”
Bultman led all scorers in the contest with 24 points. Waggoner was impressed with Bultman’s performance, but credited Pinckneyville’s defense on making it tough. “He earned every one of those, and really did a great job of playing. I thought he was tired late. I know he had 16 at half, so I thought even though our press wasn’t getting turnovers, our press was doing a good job of wearing him and (Carson) Parker out in the second half”
The Hornets got just 14 points from the rest of the team, which Coach Harre said they need to correct. “We got to find something. We got to find someone to step up and shoot it. We’re looking for that right now and we haven’t got it right now. I think we’re capable of it, we just haven’t got it thus far.”
Jake Haley finished with four points for Nashville, while Brandon Schnitker, Cameron Parker, Carson Parker, Tanner Bergmann, and Matt Anderson each finished with two points.
The Hornets were back in action on January 6 as they hosted Washington County rival Okawville. A low scoring first half, the Hornets were able to pull away in the second half to take a 40-28 win.
Neither team could get anything working offensively in the first half. The two teams combined for just nine made field goals in the first half of play. Nashville trailed after the first as Will Aubel knocked down a big three late to give Okawville a 7-4 lead after one quarter of play.
In the second the Hornets took the lead for good. Nashville would hold Okawville without a basket in the frame, but only outscored the Rockets 9-1 to take a 13-8 halftime lead.
In the third, both teams would at least match their first half point totals. Nashville outscored Okawville 13-10. Okawville would cut the Hornets lead to three, but Nashville would get two big threes from Carson Parker and Anderson to take back control. Coach Harre talked about the two big threes after the game. “In those kind of games, six points is huge. We kind of moved the ball around, and got our feet underneath us a bit. Those two shots were big, no question.” At the end of the third, the Hornets would lead 26-18.
In the fourth, Nashville would go 8-8 from the charity stripe to put the game away. Overall the Hornets would outscore the Rockets 14-10 to close out the win.
After the game, Okawville’s coach Jon Kraus wanted to see more fight from the Rockets. “They guarded us very well obviously, but we just didn’t have a lot fight tonight. I don’t have the answer for that one. We just didn’t show a lot of fight, especially in the first half. We didn’t attack, we just played passive, and we didn’t do a very good job of going at them and being aggressive. They did all the things it takes to win the game. They got all the rebounds, they screened us out. They did all the little things that we didn’t do tonight. When you do those things in this kind of game, usually you’re going to win.”
Coach Harre praised his team’s offense in the second half.. “It was like last night. Our defense pretty much carried us through. Not just tonight, I thought our defense pretty much carried us through. I think we’re guarding pretty well. We have to keep guarding. Our offense just needs to come around. I thought the second half, we played with more fluidness. We were looking for that. We threw the ball up the floor, kind of moved better. If we kind of do that we can shoot it better. First half, an offensive juggernaut it was not, for both teams. We grinded it out. “
Bultman led all scorers with 15 points. Anderson added nine points off the bench, while Carson Parker finished with eight points. Cameron Parker and Jake Haley each finished with four points.
Okawville was led by Luke Hensler with nine points. Payten Harre, Wyatt Krohne, and Will Aubel each finished with five points. Caleb Frederking and Lane Schilling each finished with two points.