By Brent Huelsmann
After a blowout win on Friday night, the Hornets ended their weekend with a tough loss in the Bank of O'Fallon Shootout on Saturday afternoon. The Hornets were able to stay perfect in conference play against Sparta, but dropped their final non-conference game of the season against St. Joseph Ogden. The Hornets now finish up the season, with three conference games before entering postseason play.
The Hornets got off to a fast start and never looked up back, as they dominated the Sparta Bulldogs on Friday, February 5. The Hornets never trailed in the game, on their way to a 55-33 win. The Hornets got off to a fast start as Ryan Brink and Brady Bultman hit back to back three pointers to open up the scoring. Another three pointer by Hayden Heggemeier gave the Hornets a 9-2 lead early in the matchup. The Hornets extended their lead to 16-6 by the end of the first quarter, after Brogan Kemp hit another three pointer in the first frame. The Hornets continued the onslaught in the second quarter, as back to back baskets by Royce Newman extended the Hornets lead to 14 points. The Hornets led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, and by 13 points at halftime.
In the second half, the Hornets continued to extend their lead, getting five points from Bultman in the third quarter alone. At the end of the third quarter, Nashville had built their lead to 18 points going into the final quarter. The Hornets kicked off the fourth, with a three pointer by Brink, and were able to cruise from there to a 55-33 win.
The Hornes had a very balanced scoring effort, that coach Brad Weathers talked about after the game. “ I thought our scoring was very balanced, we knocked down some perimeter shots early, and then we got the ball inside, and they were playing us man, they went zone here, and we still got some shots down low, but for whatever reason we just didnt finish and it slowed us down a little bit.”
The Hornets were led by Newman with 12 points and eight rebounds in the matchup. Bultman finished with 10 points, followed by Kemp with nine points and eight rebounds. Heggemeier scored eight points, and Brink finished with six points. Jake Haley finished with five points, all of which were in the fourth quarter, while Dalman scored three points. Ryan Kell scored two points to round out the scoring for the Hornets.
The Hornets were back in action the next afternoon, as they traveled to the Panther Dome at O'Fallon High School for the Bank of O'Fallon Shootout. The Hornets were matched up against St. Joseph's Ogden. A close game throughout, the Hornets just fell short, as St. Joseph Ogden won 64-55 in overtime.
The Hornets took an early four point lead behind five points from Bultman, but could not hold on. Trailing 9-5, St. Joseph Ogden went on a 5-0 run to take the lead, but the Hornets would come back to hold a narrow 13-12 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, both teams traded points, with neither team gaining control, as there was five lead changes in the second quarter. At half, both teams were tied at 25 setting up an exciting second half. Coming out of halftime, St. Joseph Ogden was able to get the lead behind an early 5-0 run. In the third, the Hornets trailed by as many as eight, but were able to trim the Spartans' lead to just five points going into the final stanza.
In the fourth, the Hornets used a quick 8-2 run, highlighted by four points apeice from Heggemeier and Newman, to take a one point lead. Down the stretch both teams would trade buckets. With the Hornets down three late in the fourth quarter, Nashville's Brink hit a big three pointer to tie the game at 48. St. Joseph Ogden held for the final shot but could not connect sending the game into overtime. In overtime, the Hornets took an early lead, but turnovers late plagued Nashville, allowing the Spartans to pull away for a 64-55 victory.
After the game, coach Weathers talked about overtime, “credit their defense, they really got after us. We got the lead, had the ball in voertime, and I thought we could get another pretty good look, but we coughed it up.” Overall the Hornets finished with six turnovers in overtime.
Bultman finished as the leading scorer for Nashville with 16 points in the game. Both Newman and Brink also finished in double figures, as Newman finished with 12 points, and Brink finished with 10 points. Heggemeier scored nine points, followed by Dalman with four points. Riley Edwards and Kemp finished with two points apiece in the loss.
The Hornets will now finish up the season with three conference games. The Hornets play at home against Carterville on Friday, February 12 at 7:45 p.m. The Hornets travel to play against Pinckneyville on Saturday, February 13, and finish the season with senior night against DuQuoin on February 19.