By Brent Huelsmann
Nashville Hornettes basketball tipped off the season with a 46-36 win over the Freeburg Lady Midgets in their opening game of the 10th Annual Nashville Girls Basketball Thanksgiving Tournament.
Eight teams will vie for the tournament crown. In Pool A, Collinsville, Freeburg, Mascoutah and Nashville will battle it out, while in Pool B, Benton, Mt. Vernon, Okawville, and Wesclin will face off. The winners of each pool will play for the Championship on Saturday November 26, at 8 p.m.
The Hornettes started off slow in the matchup, as Freeburg took the early advantage.
Freeburg hit three-three point shots in the first quarter, to hold an 11-7 lead after one.
The Hornettes came out in the second, chipping away at the Freeburg lead. Nashville would take their first lead of the ball game, late in the first half, as Sophie Heck connected on a three point shot. The shot would allow Nashville to take a 17-16 lead into the halftime break.
After the game, Hornettes coach Doug Althoff, talked about the boost Heck gave off the bench in the second quarter. “We got into a little bit of foul trouble there, and Sophie came in and it didn’t take her long. She made a couple buckets, there and Kylie came in and got one for us right off the bench. That’s what you need, they were ready to go and ready to play, and that’s huge for us.”
Coming out of halftime, the Hornettes were able to fight off a run from Freeburg to build their lead as they moved into the fourth quarter. With the score tied at 19 midway through the third, the Hornettes went on a 10-6 run to close out the quarter, to gain some breathing room. The Hornettes held a 29-25 lead going into the fourth.
In the fourth, the Hornettes were able to keep the pressure on Freeburg, as Libby Ahlers knocked down a shot to give the Hornettes their largest lead of the ball game at 37-30. The Hornettes would be able to hit their free throws down the stretch as Paige Kasten, Ahlers, and Janie Holle each made clutch free throws as time wound down to keep the Lady Midgets at bay.
Nashville finished with three players in double figures in the contest, as Kasten, Ahlers, and Heck each scored at least 10 points. Kasten led Nashville with 12 points on the night, followed by Ahlers and Heck with 10 points apiece. Both Karly Stanowski and Janie Holle fought hard inside all night, and finished with six points apiece. Kylie Kozuszek rounded out the scoring for the Hornettes with two points off the bench. The Hornettes went to the line often in the contest, as they finished with 22 free throw attempts. The Hornettes connected on 15 of the attempts in the game.
Althoff talked about the importance of spreading the ball around after the game. “That’s the way we are going to win, we don’t have that one player that can just take control of a game, and put up a lot of points. Not saying it won’t happen, but our game is that we have to spread the points around and try to get everyone in the scoring column.”
Freeburg was led in the game by Lilly Oliver, who finished with 15 points in the contest to lead all scorers.