The Hornets season came to an end in the Pinckneyville IHSA Class 2A Sectional this past week, as Nashville fell to the Central Cougars in the sectional final. The Hornets advanced to the sectional after defeating Greenville in the Regional Final, and faced off against Pinckneyville in the Sectional Semi-Final.
The Hornets avenged their lone conference loss this season, with a thrilling win over the Pinckneyville Panthers in the Sectional Semi-Final on March 2. The Hornets trailed by as many as eight points early in the third quarter, but the Hornets used an 11-5 run to cut the lead to just two points going into the fourth quarter. The Hornets would capitalize on a late turnover, allowing Jaris Dalman to find Royce Newman to capture the 47-45 win over Pinckneyville.
After losing by 25 less than a month ago in the same building, Nashville used a dominant performance by senior Royce Newman to take home victory against the host Panthers. Throughout the game, Pinckneyville shut down everyone except Newman. Newman scored 10 of the Hornets 14 points in the first quarter. Tied after the first, Pinckneyville came out in the second and was able to create some separation, taking a 28-24 lead into halftime.
In the third, two quick buckets by the Panthers gave Pinckneyville their largest lead of the game with 6:09 remaining in the third quarter. The Hornets would tie the game on an 11-3 run, highlighted by seven points from Newman, and four points from Brady Bultman. Pinckneyville was able to get a bucket right before the third quarter ended to take a 37-35 lead into the final quarter. The fourth quarter went back and forth, with each team trading the lead. Late in the quarter, the Hornets held a three point lead, but Pinckneyville was able to tie the game on a bucket by Clayton Houghland with 2:29 left in the game. With the game tied, and a 1:14 left Pinckneyville, turned the ball over. With time winding down, under 10 seconds, Dalman found Newman under the basket allowing Newman to put Nashville ahead with just 2.8 seconds left. Pinckneyville could not get a shot off, allowing Nashville to win 47-45.
Weathers and Newman talked about the final bucket after the game. Coach Weathers said, “ the main thing is, we were already in the double bonus and we either wanted to get a real high percentage shot, or get to the free-throw line, and fortunately we did. Time was running down, and I got close to calling another time out, but Jaris got up to the top of the key and he looked and fortunately we were able to lob it over the top to Royce, and at that point it was pretty well one-on-one, and he powered it in and scored.”
Newman was worried about his ankle on Nashville’s final possession, “ I was trying not to think of my ankle cause I rerolled my bad ankle again, and I couldn’t put that much weight on it. Jaris kinda made eye contact before the pass and he thre it, somehow I jumped up and I caught the ball and went up for a bucket.”
Pinckneyville’s coach Bob Waggoner said it all came down to execution, too many silly turnovers, not enough shot attempts, we did a great job with our gameplan, let Newman get what he was gonna get, we held the rest of the guys down, and really you give up 47 points, you should have an opportunity to win.”
Newman finished with 32 points to lead all scorers. The rest of the Nashville players combined for five baskets in the game. Bultman scored 10 points for Nashville, followed by Dalman with four points, and Hayden Heggemeier scored one point.
The Hornets moved onto the sectional final, but a hot shooting Central team sunk Nashville, as Central shot 69.2% in the game to beat the Hornets 73-59. Nashville ended it’s season at 21-11.
Nashville got on the board first in the matchup, as Newman gave the Hornets a 2-0 lead. The Hornets would not lead again in the matchup as Central ended the quarter on a 19-6 run, highlighted by two big three-pointers from Chase Schneider, and another three-pointer by Mitchell Rule. Central continued their hot shooting in the second quarter, extending their lead to as high as 17 points. In the first half, the Cougars shot 70 percent from the field, and 50 percent from behind the arc, as opposed to Nashville shooting 27.3 percent. Central held a 36-19 lead at the break.
In the second half, the Hornets were able to keep up with the Cougars, but could not chip away at the lead. In the third quarter, the Cougars would extend their lead to as high as 19 points after a basket by the Cougars leading scorer Logan Kohrman. Nashville got within 14 late in the third, but still trailed by 18 going into the final quarter. In the fourth, the Hornets would only get as close as 13 points. The Cougars took the game 73-59.
Coach Weathers talked about Central’s performance, “Central was awfully good tonight, not only shooting the ball, but getting to the rim, and knocking down free-throws. At times I was very, very proud of our kids effort. I thought we never quit and I thought we played extremely hard.”
After the game, Central coach Jeremy Schubert, praised Nashville, “for somebody to start from November on, there is nobody who improved more than the Nashville Hornets this year. Credit Coach Weathers and his staff to that, and you know Royce kicked it into gear this last postseason, and he had a great high school career, man did he have a great high school career.”
Newman led Nashville with 22 points, and finished his career as second only to Lucas O’Rear on Nashville’s all-time scoring list. Newman finished with 1,756 career points. Bultman and Kemp finished with nine points apiece in the game. Ryan Brink finished with eight points followed by Dalman with five points. Heggemeier scored four points, and Ryan Kell scored two points to round out the scoring.