By Brent Huelsmann
The Nashville Hornets, after starting slow in the Mater Dei Holiday Tournament, extended their win streak to six games this week, after defeating Greenville, DuQuoin, and Teutopolis. The Hornets win over Teutopolis was the beginning of the Nashville Invitational Tournament. This year's tournament features Mascoutah, Teutopolis, Central, Mater Dei, and Nashville. Last year, the Hornets were co-champions of the NIT along with Teutopolis.
The Hornets began their week with a close game against the Greenville Comets that came down to the wire. The Hornets got off to a fast start, as Nashville outscored Greenville 12-6 in the first quarter. The Comets regrouped to have a good second quarter, cutting the Hornets lead to one point at halftime. The Hornets held a 19-18 lead at the halftime break. Coming out of halftime, the Hornets were able to extend their lead, up to four points going into the fourth quarter. The Comets kept the game close, but the Hornets were able to pull out the 44-41 victory.
The Hornets were led in the contest by Royce Newman with 24 points in the game. Hayden Heggemeier chipped in eight points followed by Ryan Brink with six points in the contest. Brady Bultman added four points, and Brogan Kemp added two points in the game.
The Hornets next game saw them stay perfect against SIRR Mississippi Division opponents as they blew out the DuQuoin Indians on January 15. The Hornets took the lead in the first quarter, and stayed in control of the game throughout. After the first quarter, Nashville held a 15-7 lead over DuQuoin, and were able to extend the lead before halftime. Even though both teams had a good second quarter, the Hornets held a 34-24 lead at half. The Hornets put the game away for good in the third quarter, as they outscored the Indians 13-4 in the quarter. The Hornets were able to cruise in the fourth to a 60-39 victory.
Newman again led the Hornets with 25 points in the game. Bultman joined Newman in double figures with 10 points for Nashville. Brink added eight points, followed by Heggemeier with six points. Jake Haley and Kemp each had four points apiece in the win. Ryan Kell chipped in two points, and Dalman added one point to round out the scoring.
The Hornets then began play in the Nashville Invitational Tournament against Teutopolis. Last year, the Hornets split the tournament championship with the Wooden Shoes. In a matchup of the co-champions from last year, Teutopolis took control of the game early, but Nashville was able to use a huge second half to defeat the Wooden Shoes.
Teutopolis took control of the game early as they stretched their lead to 10 points early in the first quarter, the Hornets would chip into the lead, only for the Wooden Shoes to extend it back to double digits at the end of the first.
The second quarter was back and forth as Teutopolis couldn't extend their lead, and Nashville couldn't get any closer than nine points. Teutopolis extended their lead to 11 at one point but Nashville was able to cut it to nine points at the halftime break.
The third quarter belonged to Nashville. “We challenged them at halftime,” said Coach Brad Weathers, and the Hornets would outscore the Wooden Shoes 38-24 in the second half. Teutopolis began the quarter on a 4-0 run to extend their lead to 13, but a three point basket by Heggemeier began a 12-3 run for the Hornets to get the game within four. The Hornets kept chipping away, and a three pointer by Brink tied the game at 40 late in the third. At the end of the third quarter, both teams were back where they started, as the game was tied going into the final stanza.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Hornets were able to grab the lead, after a technical foul by Teutopolis coach Jason Hanson. After the game, Hanson explained the call, “ the kid kicked the ball, clear as day. He kicked the ball, I said he kicked the ball, and I got a technical foul.” The Hornets sent Bultman to the line, for the technical foul and he connected on 1 of 2 free throws, to give the Hornets their first lead since they led 1-0 in the first quarter. Newman then connected to give the Hornets a three point lead, early in the fourth. Teutopolis was able to grab back the lead, 49-47, but the Hornets used a 6-0 run to give the Hornets control of the game. Newman made two free throws late, to seal the 56-51 win for Nashville.
After the game Teutopolis coach Hanson, still was talking about the calls in the game, “ we had three fouls in the first 32 secoonds of the game, and I thought two of them were clean.” Hanson went on to praise the Hornets and the tournament, “It's a very good tournament, no question about it. Nashville's a great program, same thing with Central and Mater Dei, and Mascoutah's got some really good talent as well.”
The Hornets finished the game with four players in double figures, and coach Weathers praised the balanced effot. “ Our scoring was very balanced, Bultman was in double figures, Heggemeier was in double figures, and Kemp was in double figures.
Heggemeier led the Hornets with 13 points in the game. Bultman and Newman each had 12 points apiece in the game. Kemp added 10 points in the comeback win. Brink chipped in five points, while Haley and Dalman added two points apiece to round out the scoring.