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Hornets Struggle At NIT

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By Brent Huelsmann

After dropping their first three games at the Nashville Invitational Tournament to Mascoutah, Central, and Teutopolis, the Nashville Hornets boys basketball team bounced back to end the tournament on a high note with a victory over Mater Dei. The Hornets record on the season is 13-8 as the Hornets prepare for a conference matchup against Anna-Jonesboro Friday night at Assembly Hall.

After dropping a game to Mascoutah on Monday night, the Hornets dropped their second game of the tournament 45-36 to Central on Tuesday January 17. The Cougars led from wire to wire, as Central jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first. At the end of the first, the Hornets trailed 8-4. A close game throughout, the Cougars would build a lead as high as nine in the second quarter. The Hornets would chip away, and got as close as five late in the second quarter, but a last second shot by Jack Strieker gave the Cougars a 21-14 halftime lead.

After the break, the Hornets quickly scored four points to cut the Central lead to just three, but that was as close as Nashville would get the rest of the way. The Hornets would cut Central’s lead to four multiple times, but could not close the gap further as the Cougars held a six point lead at the end of three, and pulled away in the fourth for a 45-36 victory.

Hornets’ coach Brad Weathers credited Central’s defense after the game. “We didn’t shoot the basketball very well tonight, and credit Central with some of that. We ought to be able, when we are overplayed,when people are trying to take some things away, you ought to be able to counter that, and we are still trying to get that accomplished. I thought we had a good contribution off the bench tonight, that I was pleased with, more so than usual, and I thought we were able have more energy through the entire game.”

The Hornets were led in the game by Brogan Kemp who finished with 12 points in the game. Bryce Bultman added eight points, followed by Hayden Heggemeier and Carson Parker with five points apiece. Ryan Brink scored four points, and Cameron Parker added two points off the bench in the loss.

The Hornets were back in action against Teutopolis on Friday January 20. The Hornets got off to a fast start as they led Teutopolis 8-3 early, but Teutopolis would use a huge run to take control of the game, and take home a 71-39 victory.

The Hornets led 8-3 early thanks to three point baskes by Heggemeier and Brink, but Teutopolis would end the first quarter on a 16-2 run to hold a 19-10 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Wooden Shoes would continue to put pressure on Nashville and were able to extend their lead to 37-24 at halftime.

After the break, the Hornets would come out and quickly hit two three pointers to cut the Teutopolis lead to 40-30, but that would be as close as the Hornets would get, as Teutopolis would go on a 17-2 run to end the third quarter and put the game out of reach. As the teams went into the fourth, the Hornets trailed 57-32. In the fourth, Teutopolis was able to cruise to an easy victory.

After the game, coach Brad Weathers talked about turnovers. “Turnovers killed us the entire ballgame. At halftime we had 11 turnovers, and they had 18 points off of those 11, and for the ballgame we had about 22, I don’t know if that’s exact but it's pretty close, and they scored 28 points off us turning the ball over. The fact that we were 4 of 15 from the free throw line, says a lot. We were our own worst enemy at times, but you also have to credit T-town’s defense, they are very very good defensively. They are long and deep, and they make it really difficult. We expected to have turnovers, but it just we had hoped we would’ve taken care of the ball a little better than that.”

Brink led Nashville in the game as the only Hornets player in double figures with 12 points. Kemp scored nine points in the loss, followed by Heggemeier with eight points. Briles scored four points, while Cameron Parker and Brandon Schnitker each scored two points. Carson Parker scored one point for Nashville.

The Hornets got back on the winning track, as they defeated Mater Dei for the second time this season,51-45. The two teams previously matched up in pool play at the Mater Dei Holiday Tournament, a game in which the Hornets won 55-40 on December 30.

The two teams were evenly matched in the first quarter, as both teams traded buckets. Neither team was able to gain much of an advantage as Nashville held the largest lead of the quarter at 13-9. Mater Dei would hit a late bucket to cut Nashville’s lead to just two going into the second.

In the second quarter, Mater Dei would quickly take a 15-14 lead, but the Hornets would go on a 9-1 run to take an eight point lead. Mater Dei would hit two late threes to cut the Hornets lead to just two points as the teams headed into the locker room.

The third quarter was another back and forth affair as there was three ties in the quarter, but with the score tied at 31, the Hornets would go on a 6-0 run to end the quarter and took a 37-31 lead into the final stanza.

In the fourth, the Hornets would build their lead as high as nine in the early going, but Mater Dei would fight back to cut Nashville’s lead to four as time wound down. Down the stretch the Hornets were able to make key free throws to take the game 51-45 and stop their three game losing streak.

After the game, Mater Dei’s coach Ron Schadegg talked about his team’s struggles. “We’re playing hard, defensively I think we’ve been pretty decent the whole tournament, just haven’t had the offensive production. We’ve got to find ways, we have to keep grinding, keep searching, researching,reaching, banging, I don’t know just to try and find somebody to get something going.

Hornets coach Brad Weathers talked about his team’s play during the tournament. “This is a good win for us. We worked awfully hard this week. As tough as this tournament is, you can work awfully hard and still not come out with a win, or very many wins anyway. We had to beat a good ballclub tonight, they’re long and athletic. I thought we played well, did some good things tonight.”

Kemp led the team with 20 points in the win, followed by Bultman who finished with 14 points and a team-high 9 rebounds. Brink scored eight points, followed by Cameron Parker with five points. Heggemeier scored three points and Schnitker rounded out the scoring with one point.

Brogan Kemp, guarded by Central’s Joe Raterman drives hard to the basket during the Hornets loss to the Cougars on January 17.