The Nashville Middle School Junior Hornets Boys Basketball team finished up the year with a second place finish in the state, after losing 30-35 against Christopher in the SIJHSAA championship game, held on the evening of Friday, February 9, at Rend Lake College. The Junior Hornets team, cheerleaders and coaches include: FROM LEFT, FRONT ROW, Sailor Gutzler-Dlubala, Ella Jones, Brooke Stroud, Yerian Perez, and Keely Hug. MIDDLE ROW, Aidan Heiman, Rylan Hammer, Trey Reinburg, Carson Cook, Nolan Heggemeier, Aaron Brink, and Lucas Knepp. BACK ROW, Cheerleading Coach Melissa Diekemper, Assistant Coach Pat Heseman, Manager Garrett Williamson, Michael Combs, Bennett Briles, Connor Gladson, Hayden Robinson, Kolten Gajewski, Ian Blazier, Saxton Hoepker, Radyn Schwartzkopf, Head Coach Will Reinburg, and Cheerleading Coach Ashley Engele. For the online gallery click here.
By Brent Huelsmann
The Nashville Jr. Hornets capped off their season with a second place finish in SIJHSAA Class M State Tournament. The Jr. Hornets defeated Sparta and Pontiac in the first two rounds of the State Tournament, but fell to Christopher in a closely contested State Championship game. The Jr. Hornets finished the season with a record of 21-7.
After losing to Sparta twice in the regular season, the Jr. Hornets got their revenge in the state tournament as they defeated Sparta 52-32 in the first round.
Nashville jumped out to the early advantage as they held a 17-9 advantage over Sparta after one quarter of play. In the second, Sparta closed the gap, but still trailed 24-19 as the teams headed into the locker room.
Nashville came out on fire in the third, as they outscored Sparta 19-8 in the frame to take a 43-27 lead with one quarter to play. In the fourth, the Jr. Hornets were able to keep Sparta at bay and took the win 52-32.
Kolten Gajewski led Nashville with 16 points, followed by Michael Combs with 14 points. Ian Blazier added 11 in the win followed by Hayden Robinson with nine points. Aaron Brink rounded out the scoring with three points.
Nashville moved on to the semi-final where they faced off against Pontiac. Again the Jr. Hornets got out of the gate quick and held off Pontiac in the second half to win the game 42-28 and move on to the State Championship.
Nashville took control early as they led 13-3 at the end of the first. The Jr. Hornets extended their lead slightly before half as they took a 21-10 lead into the break.
Pontiac made a run in the third, and cut the Nashville lead to 29-22 as the teams headed to the final stanza. In the fourth, Nashville pulled away and took the 42-29 win.
Combs finished with 16 to lead the Jr. Hornets as one of three players in double figures. Blazier added 11 points, while Gajewski scored 10 points in the win. Robinson finished with five points for Nashville.
The Jr. Hornets advanced to the State Championship where they would face off against Christopher. An evenly contested contest, the Jr. Hornets led most of the way, but a fourth quarter rally by Christopher would give them the win 35-30 over Nashville.
Nashville held a slim 11-7 lead at the end of the first, and an even slimmer 20-17 lead at the break. In the third, the teams were even as both Nashville and Christopher scored five points in the frame.
In the fourth, Nashville could not hold off the Christopher rally as Christopher overtook the Jr. Hornets and went on for the 35-30 win.
After the game, Jr. Hornets coach Will Reinburg talked about his team’s run through the state tournament. “I thought our team really came together and started playing well defensively the last part of the season. We knocked off two very talented teams at the state tournament, but just didn’t have quite enough to get that last victory.
Combs led the way in the loss with 12 points, followed by Blazier with 11. Heggemeier and Gajewski each added three points, while Robinson scored one point for Nashville.