Hornettes Come Back To Grab Regional Crown

The Nashville Hornettes overcame an eight point deficit at the end of the third quarter to beat the Sesser-Valier/Waltonville Lady Red Devils 46-34 on Thursday February 8. “The Nest” was out in full force, decked out in all of the Hornet gear as they cheered the Hornettes to victory. 
By Brent Huelsmann
For the seventeenth time in the past eighteen seasons, the Nashville Hornettes are Regional Champions. It took a comeback, but when the final buzzer sounded the Hornettes found themselves on top, as they defeated Sesser-Valier/Waltonville 46-38 to win the IHSA Class 2A Regional.
After Althoff took care of Wesclin in the opening game of the Nashville Regional, the Lady Crusaders matched up against the Hornettes in the Regional Semifinal.  A close game in the first half, the Hornettes pulled away in the second half to take a 53-39 win and advance to the Regional Championship.
The Hornettes came out on fire from behind the arc. Nashville hit five threes in the first quarter, three of which came from Rachael Kell. Althoff kept it close throughout the first. The Lady Crusaders led the most of the first part of the frame.  With the game tied at 16 late in the first, Kell stepped back behind the line and hit a three to give Nashville a 19-16 lead after one quarter of play. Hornettes coach Doug Althoff talked about making threes in the first after the game.  “It was huge. When they went to that diamond-one. That’s how you beat that, you just have to make some and fortunately we did. I think being at home helps a little bit, little more relaxed. You know you make that first one, then somebody else makes one, and it didn’t take long we got them out of it.
Neither team saw much offensive output in the second, as both teams combined for seven points. The Hornettes scored four of those points getting two points apiece from Karly Stanowski and Rylee Luechtefeld to take a 23-19 lead into the break.
After halftime, the Hornettes again found their offensive rhythm, as two early threes from Paige Kasten helped the Hornettes gain breathing room. Overall, the Hornettes outscored Althoff 16-8 in the frame to take a 39-27 lead into the final stanza of play.
In the fourth, Althoff would never cut the deficit to less than ten, as the Hornettes came away with a 53-39 win to advance to the Regional Championship.
After the game, Hornettes coach Althoff talked about the win. “It’s all about surviving right. You win by one, you win by whatever, as long as you win. It’s postseason basketball.”
Four players scored in double figures for Nashville as Libby Ahlers, Kasten, Kell, and Stanowski all scored at least ten points.
Kasten led the way with 14 points, followed by Stanowski with 13 points. Kell added 11, while Ahlers scored ten points in the win. Sophie Heck scored three points in the win, while Luechtefeld added two points.
The Hornettes were back in action on February 8, as they took on Sesser-Valier/Waltonville. It marked the 21st straight season that the Hornettes appeared in a Regional Championship game. Nashville overcame a nine point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Lady Red Devils 46-38.
Nashville got out of the gates quick as they started the game on a 10-2 run. The Lady Red Devils would fight back, as they scored four of the final six points to end the first trailing 12-6.
Sesser-Valier/Waltonville crept closer in the second as they quickly tied the game on threes from Sami McCowen and Jada Hale. Nashville would make a run late in the frame as the Hornettes scored four of the final five points to head into halftime with a 18-15 lead over the Lady Red Devils.
In the third, Nashville quickly extended their lead to eight to take a 25-17 lead, but Sesser-Valier/Waltonville would come alive. The Lady Red Devils scored the next 16 points of  the game to take a 33-25 lead over the Hornettes. The two teams traded buckets to end the frame, and the Lady Red Devils took a 35-27 lead into the fourth.
The fourth quarter belonged to Stanowski as she scored 12 points in the frame to help overcome the deficit. Nashville trailed by as many as nine after a three from Brooke Wildermann, but it would be the only three points the Lady Red Devils would score in the quarter. Kell got the Hornettes back within two. Coach Althoff talked about Kell’s three after the game.  “That was huge, then we came down and stopped them, and Karly made two free throws to tie it up. Free throws are huge in postseason, you have to make them.” The Hornettes would eventually take the lead for good on a basket by Stanowski. Overall the Hornettes ended the game on a 17-0 run to close out the win.
“You choose your death on that, if you double or triple down which most teams do, then you leave the set shooters open on the perimeter and we weren’t going to do that. We weren’t going to do that,” said Sesser-Valier/Waltonville Coach Rick Metcalf. Metcalf went on to say, “we took our chances on single coverage and she scored 29 or 30 whatever it was but she earned everything she had. And after she missed a couple of shots, if we would have got the rebound it might have been a different game.”
Stanowski also chimed in after the game. “We weren’t ready to go home tonight. We came out like we were a little nervous, we all knew that, you’re going to be nervous in these kind of games and stuff. I just knew down there that I had to keep it up because they were having trouble guarding me, so I was trying to get them to get inside. The guards were doing a great job hitting some threes at some key points. All-together we played well tonight. We had a few slow points, but we picked it back up and got the win.”
Both Stanowski and Althoff praised the students that showed up in support. Althoff said, of the fans, “It was awesome. That’s huge,especially that end when we were making that run, they were into it. It’s hard for that other team, and they couldn’t get organized. The fans were awesome today.”
Stanowski then added,  “Probably the best student section we’ve had all year. They really help us out, they keep us going, we just love them. Great students here.”
Stanowski led all scorers with 29 points in the win. Stanowski also brought down eight rebounds in the win. Kell added seven points, followed by Kasten with six. Ahlers and Heck rounded out the scoring with two points apiece.

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