By Brent Huelsmann
The Nashville Hornettes girls basketball team finished up the regular season this past week as they held on for two Southern Illinois River to River Conference wins over Pinckneyville and DuQuoin. In each game, the Hornettes rushed out to a big lead early, and withstood late rallies to get the win. The Hornettes finished the regular season with a record of 22-6 overall, and a 7-3 record in conference play.
The Hornettes finished up their home season on Senior Night with a matchup against the Lady Panthers of Pinckneyville. The Hornettes honored seniors Janie Holle, and Johnna Bergmann before the game. The Hornettes would withstand a furious rally over the final three quarters to win the game 52-42.
The Hornettes rushed out to a big lead in the game, as they connected on five three pointers in the first quarter alone. Rachael Kell connected on three three pointers, while Paige Kasten added two from behind the arc. The Hornettes would jump out to a 25-7 lead after the end of the first quarter. Kell finished with a game-high 11 points in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Lady Panthers ratcheted up the defensive intensity and began to pressure the Hornettes. Pinckneyville was able to hold the Hornettes to just six points in the frame, and cut Nashville’s lead to 31-19 at the break.
After halftime, Pinckneyville continued to cut into Nashville’s lead. The Lady Panthers began the second half on a 11-0 run to cut Nashville’s lead down to one. The Hornettes would respond with their own 8-0 run to extend their lead back to 39-30.
After a series of runs in the third quarter, the Hornettes would hold a 41-33 lead going into the final stanza. In the fourth, the Hornettes were able to keep the Lady Panthers at bay. Pinckneyville would get as close as six, but could not close the gap any further. The Hornettes would get a 52-42 win.
Coach Doug Althoff talked about the game afterwards. “You have to give them credit, they came out and pressured us all over the court, and we didn’t handle it very well at the beginning there. It took us a little while to get it figured out, and at this point of the year if you get a win, its always a good win.”
Kasten led the way as one of three Nashville players in double figures. Kasten finished with 16 points, followed by Janie Holle with 13 points, and Kell with 11 points. Karly Stanowski added eight points, and Libby Ahlers scored four points. Megan Breslin led the way for Pinckneyville with 16 points, followed by Raygan Yates finished with 13 points.
The Hornettes finished out the regular season, on the road with a matchup over the DuQuoin Lady Indians. Again the Hornettes jumped out to a big lead, but struggled in the second half. The Hornettes managed to grab a 26-24 win in a frantic finish.
The Hornettes struggled from the field in the first quarter, but still managed to hold a 8-5 lead after the first quarter. The Hornettes made just two field goals in the quarter, and got four free throws, two apiece from Sabrina Kollbaum, who was making her first career start, and Stanowski.
In the second, the Hornettes defense clamped down, and Kasten got hot from behind the arc. Kasten finished with 11 points in the second quarter alone, and helped the Hornettes build a 21-7 halftime lead.
The Hornettes would need every bit of that lead down the stretch. As the teams emerged from the locker room for the second half, the Lady Indians came out firing, while the Hornettes struggled to score. DuQuoin would outscore Nashville 7-0 in the first half, as the Hornettes were held scoreless in a quarter for the first time this season.
The Hornettes would get their first points of the second half, on a free throw from Kasten with 6:18 left in the first quarter. DuQuoin would eventually take the lead 24-22 over the Hornettes, but Nashville would quickly tie the game at 24 after Kell made the first field goal of the second half for Nashville with 2:23 remaining.
The teams would trade turnovers and the game would stay tied at 24 until the final seconds. As the buzzer sounded, Holle would let go of a three, that fell short, but was fouled on the shot by Kate Smith, giving Holle three free throws with no time on the clock. Holle would make two of the three free throws to give the Hornettes a two point win, despite scoring just five points in the second half.
After the game, Althoff talked about the last possession. “That last possession there you cant run anything because they are scrambling around, and I was just going to let them play and see what happened. Sabrina (Kollbaum) drove, kicked it out and Janie (Holle) was open, took the shot and got fouled, and won the game at the line. Can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Kasten led Nashville with 12 points in the game, followed by Kollbaum, Kell, and Stanowski who each finished with four points apiece. Holle scored two points in the win. DuQuoin was led by Kate Smith with seven points.