A season to remember for sure for the Nashville Hornets boys basketball team. The season began by winning the Wesclin/Mascoutah Tip-Off Classic, and finished with a runner-up finish in Class 2A in the state of Illinois. Along the way the Hornets won 35 games, a new NCHS school record, the previous record being 33 wins in 1949 and 2014. The Hornets finished second in the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament, and won the Nashville Invitational. Nashville also appeared in the Scott Credit Union Shootout, and the Highland Shootout along the way.
The Hornets had a tough road to the State Championship game. After defeating Alton Marquette in the Sectional Championship, the Nashville Hornets defeated a physical Teutopolis team 41-28 to advance to the State Tournament. Nashville would then defeat GCMS 47-45 in the Semi-Finals of the State tournament. GCMS came into the game winners of 30 straight. The Hornets season ended with a 50-36 loss to Chicago Orr, who won their third consecutive Class 2A title.
A trip to the State Tournament was on the line on March 5 as the Hornets traveled to SIU Arena to face the Wooden Shoes. Nashville trailed early, but dominated the middle quarters to take a 41-28 win.
Teutopolis took an early 5-2 lead before Tristen Hercules tied it up from behind the arc. Teutopolis would regain the lead late in the first and held a 7-5 advantage after eight minutes.
Trailing 9-7, the Hornets would come alive in the second frame. Nashville would tie the game at nine, and then grab their first lead of the game on a three point shot from Terry Pelczynski. Bryce Bultman would follow it up with a layup to give the Hornets a five point advantage. Matt Anderson would knock in a three as well to put the Hornets in control of the contest.
“They were huge coming off the bench. We had good contributions off the bench. That’s huge,” said Coach Wayne Harre after the game about Pelczynski and Anderson.
Overall Nashville would outscore Teutopolis 14-4 in the second quarter and led 19-11 at halftime.
Teutopolis closed within five, but that would be as close as they would get. After a three pointer from Evan Wermert cut the Hornets lead to 19-14, Nashville would end the quarter on a 10-4 run and take a 29-18 lead into the final stanza.
The Wooden Shoes cut the lead to single digits a couple times over the final eight minutes, but the Hornets would close out the game at the charity stripe to win their first Super-Sectional since 2014.
“I thought we just played so doggone hard. Can’t be more proud of our kids. Credit goes to our kids. They wanted the game bad. Credit to those guys and my assistant coaches. They get them ready to play.
Bultman led the Hornets with 12 points. Carson Parker finished with 10 points. Hercules and Anderson each added five points, followed by Kelton harre with four points. Pelczynski scored three points in the win. Tanner Bergmann rounded out the scoring with two points.
Gibson City-Melvin-Slbley 45
Tough competition awaited the Hornets as their first contest came against the GCMS Falcons, who came into the game winners of 30 straight games. Free throws were the story in the fourth quarter, as the Hornets made just enough from the line to close out the Falcons and escape with a 47-45 win.
The two teams went back and forth early as GCMS jumped out to a 5-2 lead. A 5-0 run by the Hornets, capped off by a three from Bergmann gave Nashville their first lead. The Hornets would lead by as many as four, but only led 11-9 at the end of th e first.
GCMS took a slim lead early in the second quarter, but would quickly lose the lead back to Nashville. The Hornets would close out the second quarter on a 9-3 run and took a 21-16 lead into the locker room.
GCMS would not go away quietly. The Falcons cut the Hornets lead to two midway through the frame, but again the Hornets would gain breathing room. Nashville found a spark to end the quarter, using a 6-2 run and led 29-23 with eight minutes left in the contest.
Fouls were common in the final quarter of play. 17 fouls were called in the fourth quarter. Four players fouled out of the game. The Hornets would go to the free throw line twenty times in the fourth, but could not pull away. GCMS used the outside shot to keep them in the game. Coupled with the Hornets struggles at the free throw line, opened the door for a close finish.
GCMS kept the Hornets within reach the entire fourth quarter, as they never trailed by more than seven. The Falcons cut the lead to two midway through the fourth at 38-36, but an 8-3 Nashville run put the Falcons in a tough spot.
With the Hornets up 46-39, the Falcons would knock in a three to cut the Hornets lead to 46-42 with 16.3 seconds remaining. Nashville would then make 1-2 from the line to take a 47-42 lead. Another three by GCMS would cut the Hornets lead to 47-45, but the Falcons ran out of time, as the Hornets held on for the win.
Coach Harre talked about their free throw struggles after the game. “We probably could have made it a lot easier for us if we made some free throws. To be honest with you, all year long we have shot them pretty well. It kind of surprised me that we missed them. We really have been a good free throw shooting team.”
Hercules talked about the large Nashville crowd that made the trip to Peoria. “We have a great student section, and all the fans that come to support us. Obviously they drove three hours to come and watch us play. It’s exciting watching them help us out on the court. It gives us a great feeling.”
Parker led Nashville with 17 points in the win. Parker also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. Bultman was also in double figures with 13 points. Bergmann added seven points, while Kelton Harre chipped in six points, all of which came from the free throw line. Pelczynski rounded out the scoring with four points.
Chicago Orr 50
The State Championship was set. The Nashville Hornets would go up against the Chicago Orr Spartans, who were the defending back-to-back State Champions. The Hornets battled the Spartans who had reloaded with five new starters from their 2018 State Championship, and added key transfers as well. Nashville played tough, but did not have enough for Chicago Orr, who took a 50-36 win to win their third consecutive State Championship. The Hornets ended the season with a school record 35 wins.
Nashville struggled out of the gate, as the Spartans rushed out to a a 10-2 lead before the Hornets could find their footing. Nashville would not give up as the Hornets outscored Chicago Orr 6-4 to end the frame and trailed 14-8 after one quarter of play.
The Hornets defense battled and kept the talented Spartans from extending their lead further. Both teams would put up six points in the frame, as Chicago Orr led 20-14 at halftime.
The third quarter was not a good one for the Hornets. Nashville saw the Spartans push their lead to double digits as Chicago Orr started the frame on a 6-0 run. The Hornets kept battling, but could not get back within single digits the rest of the way. Chicago Orr outscored the Hornets 18-8 in the frame and led 38-22 with one quarter left to play.
The Hornets would not stop battling as they fought until the final buzzer. Nashville outscored Chicago Orr over the last eight minutes of play as the Hornets put up 14 points in the final quarter. The Spartans were able to close out the win though, picking up a 50-46 win. The 50 points was Chicago Orr’s lowest scoring game in a win all season, and their second lowest scoring output all year. It was just the second time all season, that the Hornets gave up 50 points or more.
“We lost to a pretty good team. I think we all saw what they can do athletic wise. I won’t take another than this team, I’ve got right here. We asked them to battle, and battle every possession. They couldn’t have played any harder for me. I don’t know what to say. I am so proud of this team right here. I think people thought it was going to be a twenty to a thirty point game. There is no doubt. We hit a couple shots and I think we get them scared a little bit,” said Coach Harre after the game. The Hornets struggled from outside, as they finished 0-11 from behind the arc in the contest.
Coach Harre also talked about the defensive effort. “We were trying to play by possession, but they still got to the rim on us. We were trying to get in there but it seemed like they only needed an inch to get to the rim. These guys were trying. They were battling and battling. Bodies were flying all over the place. They are so big and strong. These guys from Nashville, they never backed down. They were battling. What a great job.”
After the game, Bultman, Kelton Harre, and Bergmann talked about ending their basketball careers at Nashville in the State Championship game.
“It has always been a goal of ours to get to the final day of 2A basketball. I think we gave it everything we have in the Championship game. It felt great,” said Bultman.
“I wouldn’t trade the other four seniors for anyone. We have been there for eachother since day one of our freshmen year. To be able to play the last game of 2A in the State of Illinois it meant a lot,” said Kelton Harre.
Tanner Bergmann added. “I wouldn’t trade any of these guys for anything. Like Coach Harre said, our coaching staff, they are always there for us. We’ve all just go so close, it’s gonna be tough not seeing them for awhile.”
Hercules and Parker then talked about the experience gained at State. “It’s been a wonderful ride, with all of our seniors. I’m really going to miss them, but we just have to work on the things we did wrong this year and come back next year even stronger. It was fun,” said Hercules.
Parker stated. “Making it up here is a goal every year. To actually get up here and know we can get back here next year, is a great feeling. We got experience in our belt, so we’ll see what happens next year.”
Parker finished with a double-double as he scored 16 points and pulled down 11 points. Bultman put up 12 points and pulled down six boards. Hercules and Pelczynski rounded out the scoring with four points apiece.