Hornettes Rally Against Benton, Beat Lift For Life
On Saturday, Dec. 21st, the Hornettes played host to the Benton Rangerettes in their final game before the Mascoutah Holiday Tournament. It was a slow start for the host Hornettes, and they were looking at a 12-2 deficit going into the second quarter. The story remained the same for the Hornettes in the second quarter. The offense remained stagnant, and after a Jordan Donato two pointer at the buzzer, the Hornettes were up against a 19-8 wall at the midway point.
“People were trying to do too much pressing a little bit too much. I thought Benton did a heck of a job defensively. They were severely frustrating us. We were 0-9 from the three point line in the first half. We looked like we were really rushing, ” Coach Althoff said in regards to his team’s first half struggles.
In the third period, the Rangerette lead remained in double figures until an Emily Schnitker three pointer shrunk the lead to seven. The Hornettes continued their second half surge as Sabrina Kollbaum stole the ball and took it coast to coast for a layup. The defensive turned to offense cut the lead to five. After a Rangerette bucket, the Nashville senior was able to show up again, knocking down a triple to put the score at 23-18. The third quarter rally put the Hornets back in striking distance, and the score was 26-20 going into the final frame. The Hornettes were able to get within one right away in the fourth courtesy of an Alyssa Cole layup and another Kollbaum three pointer. After being down by 11 at the half, the Hornettes were able to knot it up at 27 apiece. Benton was able to regain the advantage, going up 30-27, but the narrative remained the same; the Hornettes did not go away. Rylee Luechtefeld bucketed a pair in the final minutes, and on the ensuing Rangerette inbounds play, Donato came away with a steal. In the final seconds, it was Kollbaum who capped off the second half comeback, tying the contest with a layup and sending the game to overtime tied at 32.
“When we were down 11 I told them, let’s just cut it in half, and hopefully by the end of the game we can be right in there, and that’s what happened,” Althoff said.
Once the Hornettes had the lead, they never looked back. Donato scored the first four points in overtime, putting the Hornette lead at 36-32, and after that the Hornettes were able to finish out the game at the charity stripe. The Hornettes outscored the Rangerettes 10-3 in overtime to take the contest 42-35.
“In overtime, it was one of those things where we got the tip and scored on the first possession, and that makes it a whole different ball game. Then we were able to get a stop and make our free throws at the end,” Althoff said.
After being held to zero points in the first half, Kollbaum rose to the occasion in the second half, finishing with 12 points to lead her team. Cole finished with nine, Donato had eight, Schnitker added seven, Luechtefeld threw in four points down the stretch, and Olivia Cook earned her first points of the season after finishing with two.
As mentioned before, it was the last game before the Mascoutah Holiday Tournament, where the Hornettes will be going up against some of their best opponents of the season. Coach Althoff was hopeful the comeback win would provide momentum for his team going into the week.
“It’s all about momentum. It would’ve been hard to comeback from that. We’re very fortunate to win it, and hopefully our momentum carries us to the next win and gets us ready to go,” Althoff said.
The Hornettes did all but 48 hours to bask in the glory of their comeback win, as they were matched up with the Lady Hawks of Lift for Life Academy Monday evening in their first game of tournament action. The first quarter saw the Hornettes double up the Lady Hawks, and Nashville was able to take a 14-7 lead in the second period. After the Hornettes seemed to be taking control of the game after the first, the Lady Hawks came out strong in the second quarter and cut the Nashville lead to two before halftime. Although the score was close, the Lady Hawks were not able to contain Cole, as the sophomore erupted for thirteen points in the first half. The score remained close throughout the third quarter, but the Hornettes were able to hold a 39-35 advantage going into the closing eight minutes. In the end, the Hornettes were too much for the Lady Hawks. Nashville was able to end the game on a 26-10 scoring run, overwhelming Lift for Life for a 59-43 victory. Cole was able to equal her scoring total from the first half and finished with a game high 26 points. Kollbaum threw in 17 of her own, 14 of which came in the second half. Schnitker finished with five, Halle Reuter added four, Donato tallied three while Cook and Luechtefeld both had two apiece.