Hornets Top The Hilltoppers
The Nashville Hornets are Regional Champions. The Hornets defeated the Hilltoppers of Hillsboro 60-51 to win the IHSA Class 2A Staunton Regional Championship. The Hornets had a lot of fan support as “The Nest” made the trip up north to cheer the Hornets to victory. Nashville will now play Pinckneyville in the IHSA Class 2A Wesclin Sectional on Wednesday February 28. The winner of that game will either face Wesclin in the Sectional Final on Friday March 2.
By Brent Huelsmann
The Nashville Hornets boys basketball team is headed to Sectionals. The Hornets defeated Staunton and Hillsboro on their way to the IHSA Class 2A Staunton Regional Championship. It is the Hornets third straight Regional Championship. Nashville moved their record to 23-7.
Nashville will meet a familiar foe at Sectionals. For the third straight season, the Hornets will face SIRR Conference Rival Pinckneyville in the Sectional Semi-Finals.
The Hornets began their road to the Regional Championship with a game against host school Staunton on February 20. A hot start by the Hornet propelled them to a 47-30 win over the Bulldogs.
Staunton took an early 2-0 lead over the Hornets, but it would be their only lead of the game. Nashville would score 16 straight points in the quarter, six of them coming off three point baskets by Jake Haley, to take a 16-2 lead over Staunton. As the buzzer sounded in the first, Nashville held a 16-4 lead.
Staunton’s defense stepped up in frame number two as they held Nashville to just four points. The Bulldogs was not much better offensively. Staunton scored just six points in the second quarter and trailed Nashville 20-10 as the teams went in for halftime.
Brady Kinder of Staunton came out firing in the third, quickly cutting the Hornets lead to just four on back to back three pointers. Staunton would not get any closer as the Hornets used a 9-3 run to push the lead back to double digits. At the end of the quarter, Nashville led 33-22.
The Hornets were in control the entirety of the fourth, as Staunton never got closer than 11 in the fourth, as the Hornets closed out the win.
After the game Wayne Harre talked about the win “You’ve got to grind this postseason out. You’re not going to have pretty games, we know that. We can always guard. I thought our defense was pretty good. I thought our rebounding was ok. You’re going to get stagnant, but we didn’t get frustrated. We got in a little foul trouble. I think our people on the bench gave us a little breather. Might have been the first time we played without Bultman or Carson all year. I thought we did pretty good job of our organization. That’s a credit to them. Some people will say it wasn’t pretty, yeah it’s not pretty, but its survive and advance and that’s what this is all about.”.
Bryce Bultman and Carson Parker each finished with 14 points in the win. Haley also was in double figures with 11 points, followed by Cameron Parker with six points. Matt Anderson rounded out the scoring with two points.
Nashville would then face off against the Hilltoppers of Hillsboro in the Regional Championship game. Hillsboro defeated Greenville 55-40 in the Regional Semi-Final on February 21. The Hornets got off to a great start and held off a late run by the Hilltoppers to take a 60-51 win.
Haley hit a three to kick off the scoring and the Hornets were off from there. Nashville rushed out to a 9-0 lead before Staunton got on the board with a three from Kaiden White. White would hit another three late in the quarter, but Nashville led 11-6 after eight minutes of play.
The Hornets started the second on a 8-1 run to push their lead to 12 over the Hilltoppers. Hillsboro would get as close as seven in the late going, but a quick 6-0 run by Nashville gave the Hornets a 25-12 halftime lead.
The lead grew even further in the third. Nashville got eight points from Bultman in the frame to help the Hornets extend their lead over the Hilltoppers. Overall the Hornets outscored Hillsboro 14-11 in the frame and held a commanding 39-23 lead with one quarter to play.
Nashville would score the first four points of the quarter to put the Hornets up 20 points, but the game was far from over. Hillsboro would chip away at the lead and would hit some tough shots down the stretch to put pressure on the Hornets. Hillsboro cut the Hornets lead to eight late in the quarter, but Nashville would get clutch free throws from Carson Parker and Bultman down the stretch to seal the win. Carson Parker went 8-10 in the fourth, while Bultman went 9-12 from the charity stripe in the final stanza to seal the win.
After the game Carson Parker talked about stepping to the free throw line in the fourth. “I have been struggling with free throws all year. I practice them a lot, and luckily they were falling tonight, and I just kept shooting.”
Bultman talked about the final quarter when Hillsboro made that run. “We started getting a little out of hand there when they started pressing, I started throwing a couple shaky passes. But we kept meeting our passes being strong with the ball and they kept fouling and we knocked down free throws.”
Coach Harre was happy to just get the win. “It’s a win, it’s a regional. We don’t care if it’s one, two points, sloppy or whatever.We advanced, it’s all about advancing.”
Harre went on to talk about playing Pinckneyville again. “It’s another game. That’s the way I look at it. It’s another game that we have to play. It’s not the third time, second time. It’s just another game that we are going to look at and see what we can do with them. They are a very talented club, we all know that. They’re not ranked second in the state for nothing. We’ll have our hands full, but we’ll be ready. We’ll do the best we can, we know.”
Bultman and Carson Parker each scored 20 points in the win for Nashville. Bultman finished 12-16 from the stripe, while Parker finished 11-14. Carson Parker also pulled down 10 rebounds for a double double. Tanner Bergmann also finished in double figures as he went 3-5 from the field and connected from behind the arc right before the buzzer in the second quarter. Bergmann finished with 10 points. Haley and Anderson each finished with five points in the win.