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Hornettes Claim Share Of Conference Crown

Karly Stanowski puts up a shot during the Hornettes 54-51 win over Carterville.
By Brent Huelsmann
The Nashville Hornettes basketball team has reclaimed their spot on top of the Southern Illinois River to River Mississippi Division. The Hornettes wrapped up at least a share of the conference title with a win over Carterville on January 25. The Hornettes play just two more conference games before the postseason begins. The Hornettes end the regular season thursday night at home against DuQuoin. Varsity tip off is at 7:45 p.m.
The Hornettes kicked off the week with a dominating win over Sparta on January 23.  The Hornettes scored early and often and easily defeated the Lady Bulldogs 64-28
Nashville was hot from behind the arc in the first quarter as they knocked down four threes in the frame. The Hornettes led 22-5 at the end of the first.
In the second, the Hornettes kept up the pressure as Sparta only managed two points in the quarter. Offensively, the Hornettes got seven points from Paige Kasten in the frame, and led 37-7 at halftime.
It was an early night for the Hornettes starters, as they played the early portion of the third quarter, and took the rest of the night off as the younger players played the majority of the second half. Sabrina Kollbaum, Emily Stern, Reagen Burke, Olivia Cook, and Whitley Hunter all got a lot of playtime at the varsity level.
With the younger players in, the Hornettes did not miss a beat. Nashville led 57-19 at the end of the third, and cruised in the fourth to a 68-28.
“This late in the season, it’s kind of nice to have a game where you can get some other people in there and kind of see what they do, and maybe save some legs a little bit too. We played pretty good and it’s a good win,” said Hornettes coach Doug Althoff after the game.
Kasten led the way with 16 points in the win. Kollbaum finished with 11 points, followed by Stern and Karly Stanowski who each had 10 points in the win. Rachael Kell finished with seven points, while Libby Ahlers finished with five points. Sophie Heck and Burke each finished with three points, while Hunter finished with two points.
Nashville was back in action on January 25 with a big conference showdown with Carterville. The Hornettes defeated Carterville on December 12. The Hornettes came back from 19 down late in the third quarter to defeat the Lady Lions. Thursday’s game was much closer as both teams traded the lead throughout.
Carterville grabbed the early lead as the Lady Lions started the game on a 10-2 run, but the Hornettes would come alive the second half of the first quarter. The Hornettes would end the quarter on an 11-2 run to take a 13=12 lead at the end of the first.
The second quarter was even between the two teams. The Hornettes held a five point lead in the frame, but it quickly evaporated. Carterville took a three point lead late, but Nashville would score the final four points of the second, to take a 25-24 lead into half.
In the third, the Lady LIons  regained the lead midway through the frame, on a three by Megan Barton. Barton would knock down another from behind the arc to give Carterville a 34-29 lead. Nashville would come back to tie the game at 38, and at the buzzer Kasten would knock down a three to give the Hornettes a 41-38 lead with one quarter to play.
In the fourth, the Hornettes led the entire way, but Carterville would make it interesting. The Hornettes would hold a 51-44 lead late, but missed free throws, coupled with Carterville making shots cut the Hornettes lead to just two with less than 30 seconds remaining. Down the stretch, Kasten would make a free throw to take a three point lead. A last ditch effort by the Lady Lions fell short and the Hornettes took a 54-51 win to clinch a share of the conference crown.
Carterville’s Coach Matt Crain talked about the final minute of play. “Got it down to two, tried to keep Kasten from catching the ball at the end, she got it, made one of two. We had a shot to tie it, what more do you want. That’s what you want. You want an opportunity. We had an opportunity. Just learn from this and move on and go on to the next one.”
Althoff was happy to win a share of the Conference title, but was quick to note they had two tough conference games this season. “We’re definitely in the driver seat, we have two games left, and all we have to do is win one and we’ll win the conference outright. But we got a huge game coming up. We have to go down to Pinckneyville Tuesday night and then we have DuQuoin here Thursday.”
Stanowski led Nashville with 19 points, followed by Kasten with 18 points. Kasten reached the 1000 point milestone in the second quarter of the game. Kollbaum and Ahlers each finished with with six points, while Kell finished with three points. Stern rounded out the scoring with two points.
The Hornettes rounded out the week with a game against Mater Dei on January 27. The third game of the week for the Hornettes, Nashville ran out of gas in the second half as they fell to the Lady Knights 40-29
Nashville fell behind early in a low scoring first quarter, as Mater Dei held an 8-4 advantage at the end of the first. The Hornettes took the lead in the second as they started the quarter on a 7-2 run to take an 11-10 lead. A scary moment towards the end of the second, Ahlers went down with an ankle injury, and was carried off the court.
The game went on, and the Hornettes held a 15-12 lead at halftime.
Mater Dei would take the lead for good midway through the third. After Nashville held a 21=17 lead, the Lady Knights would go on a 15-2 run to end the third and held a 32-23 lead with one quarter to play. In the fourth, the Lady Knights stayed in control and went on for a 40-29 win.
Coach Althoff talked about the strain of the week put on the girls.” I think the biggest thing is we just ran out of gas. We’re tired. We Tuesday night, then played a huge game Thursday and to turn around and play these guys. I’m not disappointed. We played about as hard as we could and we actually were ahead, but you could just tell we were wearing down at the end.”
Stanowski led Nashville with 13 points in the win. Kasten added five points, followed by Ahlers with four points. Kell finished with three points, and Heck rounded out the scoring with two points.
A gallery of this past week’s Hornettes action can be found at:

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