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Okawville Takes NIT Crown Over Nashville

The Okawville Lady Rockets earned their first NIT Championship in school history with a 39-38 win over Nashville. Back Row: Assistant Coach Courtney Lintker, Delaney Toensing, Casean Tebbe, Audrey Jansen, Madison Hackstadt, Kymberly Schmitt, Madelyn Tepe, Kate Lohman. Coach Michelle Hasheider-Burianek, and  Assistant Coach Paul Jansen. Front Row: Megan Hettenhausen, Erin Klasing, Madison Powell, Abby Riechamnn, Grace Foster, and Megan Schleifer.

The Nashville Hornettes girls basketball team fell just short in their quest for back-to-back NIT TItles. Back Row: Coach Doug Althoff, Assistant Coach Kevin Meyer, Bailey Schorfheide, Olivia Cook, Libby Ahlers, Rylee Luechtefeld, Emily Stern, Sophie Heck, Sabrina Kollbaum, Taylor Rapp, Addi Gale, Assistant Coach Gary Mueller, and Assistant Coach Dempsey Witte. Front Row: Paige Kasten, Rachael Kell, and Karly Stanowski.

By Brent Huelsmann

It was the battle of Washington County in the finals of the 11th Annual Nashville Girls Thanksgiving Tournament. The Hornettes and Lady Rockets met in another close match that came down to a last second shot. This time Okawville was able to prevail, winning their first NIT Tournament Title in school history. Okawville previously had been 0-2 in tournament championship games. The Hornettes come away from the tournament with a 3-1 record. Nashville defeated Wesclin to open the tournament, before beating Benton, and Mt. Vernon on their way to a tournament championship.

After defeating Wesclin on the first night of the tournament, the Hornettes faced off against Benton on November 21. The Hornettes picked up their second straight win to begin the season 48-26.

Nashville held a 16-6 lead after the first quarter, and a 26-17 lead at the break. After halftime, the Hornettes continued to pour it on as they extended their lead to 38-21 with one quarter to play. In the fourth, Nashville cruised to the 22 point win.

Paige Kasten led the way with 17 points, followed by Sophie Heck with 10 points. Karly Stanowski and Libby Ahlers each finished with nine points, while Rachael Kell added three points in the win.

The Hornettes then came back after Thanksgiving for the first of two games on Saturday November 25. In their first game of the day, Nashville defeated Mt. Vernon 45-25. The Hornettes took an early 7-0 lead, and never trailed in the game. Mt. Vernon would get as close as 7-4 midway through the first quarter, but Nashville would end the frame on a 5-2 run to take control.

The Hornettes would continue to build their lead in the second, quickly building their lead to double digits. By halftime, the Hornettes had build a 21-10 lead over Mt. Vernon.

In the third, Mt. Vernon cut the lead to single digits, to 27-18, but the Hornettes would score the final four points of the quarter to take a 31-18 lead into the fourth.

In the fourth, the Hornettes built the lead to as many as 25, and were able to cruise to a 45-25 win.

After the game, Coach Doug Althoff was happy with his team’s performance. “I was really happy with our defense. Defense wins game, and I was pretty proud of the way they played defense.”

Althoff went on to praise the balanced scoring from the Hornettes.“It’s always nice when you have that kind of balanced scoring. It’s hard to guard you, when you have everybody making some shots. We missed some bunnies there, but that’s ok it’s early in the season.”

The Hornettes were led by Ahlers who scored 14 points in the win. Ahlers was joined in double figures by Kasten, who finished with 11 points. Rachael Kell added nine points, followed by Karly Stanowski with seven points. Sophie Heck scored four points for Nashville.

The win over Mt. Vernon, coupled with Okawville’s perfect 3-0 record in pool play, set up a rematch of last year’s final between Nashville and Okawville. Last season, Nashville defeated Okawville 36-34 to win the NIT.  This year, it was Okawville that would come out on top in another thrilling matchup. The Lady Rockets prevailed to win their first NIT Tournament crown 39-38 over Nashville.

The Hornettes got the early lead as they jumped out to an 11-7 lead over Okawville after one quarter of play. In the second, Okawville quickly cut the Hornettes lead to one on a three pointer by Kate Lohman, but the Hornettes came back with a three of their own from Kell. Okawville would then tie the game at 16 on a basket by Audrey Jansen, but again the Hornettes hit a big three to gain breathing room, this time from Kasten. At the break, Nashville would lead 21-16.

After the break, Okawville would turn up the defensive pressure on the Hornettes, as they chipped away at the Hornettes lead. Okawville would take their first lead of the contest at 28-27 on a basket by Jansen. Okawville would close the third quarter on a a 5-2 run to take a 33-29 lead into the final quarter.

In the fourth, the Lady Rockets stretched the lead to as many as sid in the early going. With the Hornettes trailing 37-31, Nashville would go on a 7-0 run to take a 38-37 lead with 1:12 remaining after a three pointer by Kasten. Okawville would get the ball back, and take the lead for good, as Casean Tebbe knocked down a shot to give the Lady Rockets the 39-38 advantage. With time winding down, the Hornettes would have one last chance, but a shot from Kasten missed the mark as Okawville held on for the win.

After the game, Okawville coach Michelle Hasheider-Burianek would say. “They battled hard tonight, and I was proud of them. You just try to keep getting better every night, and we have different girls step up every night, so I’m very proud of these kids. They played together hard.”

Hasheider-Burinaek went on to talk about Madelyn Tepe, and her performance in the game. “Tepe is going to give you whatever you ask her to do, she’s gonna do. A coach’s dream, because no matter who you ask her to guard, she’s gonna guard. If you tell her to take the ball to the basket, she’s gonna do that, and you are not going to hear anything from her. She’s gonna give you everything she’s got every night.”

Althoff talked about his team’s performance in the game. “Had visions of a repeat there. I told them, as long you have a chance to win at the end of the game against a good team like that, that’s all I can ask for, and that’s what we got. We executed. Sometimes shots go in, sometimes they don’t. I’m not disappointed at all the way we played.”

Nashville was led by Kasten who finished with 14 points in the loss. Stanowski was also in double figures as she finished with 12 points. Ahlers added six points, while Kell scored five points. Heck scored one point in the loss.

Okawville was led by Tepe who finished with 12 points. Lohman added nine points in the win, followed by Jansen with seven points. Lohman added six points, and Kymberly Schmitt scored five points to round out the scoring.

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