By: Garrett Krohne
Six days after their loss to Fairfield at the Rich Herrin Classic, the Hornets (23-5) found themselves back at Assembly Hall for a Friday night tussle against the Lions of Carterville. This game would be the second time the conference foes have squared off this season. Nashville was able to claim a 45 to 34 victory down in Carterville last month. This contest was the first of three regular season games on the Hornet’s schedule. Nashville was able to snag the quick lead after Jaxon Goforth layup, but Carterville was able to respond with a 12-4 run, and the Hornets quickly found themselves trailing 12 to 6 in the first period. Nashville would respond by scoring the next six points, two coming from Carson Parker and four coming from Isaac Turner, and the two teams were tied at twelve after the opening eight minutes. The boys in blue and white were able to close the first quarter on a 6-0 run, and they were able to continue their momentum into the second. The Hornets were able to score fourteen straight points from the time it was 12 to 6, and all of a sudden Nashville’s lead was 20 to 12. Turner was able to knock down a late three, and from the midway point of the first period to the end of the half, the Hornets scored twenty three and out twenty eight points that were entered on the scoreboard. The 23 to 5 run enabled Nashville to lead 29 to 17 at the half. The surge was led by Tristen Hercules, who erupted for ten second period points. The Lions were able to get back within ten early in the third quarter, but that was close as the Hornets would allow them to get. A 13 to 7 scoring burst to close out the quarter gave the Hornets a comfortable 44 to 28 lead heading into the final frame. Seven straight Hornet points to open up the fourth quarter gave the team their largest lead of the game at twenty three before a Terry Pelczynski triple put the lead at twenty six later in the period. The scoring outburst in the first half was enough to put the Hornets over top with a 58 to 35 win. The Hornets were aided by a balanced scoring attack, as they had three players reach double figures. Hercules led all of those scorers with 15, followed by Turner with 11, and Parker with 10. Buzz Ritzel threw in eight more, Goforth added six, Matt Anderson finished with five, and Pelcyznski rounded out the scoring with three. The win put the Hornets at 24 on the season to only five losses. Just over a month ago, the Hornets welcomed Pinckneyville to Assembly Hall. The highly touted Panthers were fresh off of being named the top ranked team in class 2A. Nashville was able to send their rivals back down 127 with a nineteen point loss. On Saturday night, the table was set for a rematch, as the Hornets made the trip into the Panther’s den. Following an evening where he only notched three points, Nashville’s Pelczynski was able to equal the prior total right out of the gates, enabling the Hornets to draw first blood in this heated battle. The host Panthers were able to answer with four straight points, and three pointer by senior Dawson Yates with time expiring put the Panthers ahead 12 to 8 after one quarter of play. Pinckneyville was able to tally the first point of the second courtesy of a free throw to extend the lead to five, but the Hornets responded accordingly. The visitors were able to force turnovers on consecutive possessions, which led to points for Goforth and Parker, and Nashville was back to within one. Pinkneyville was able to get the lead back to five before baskets by Hercules and Parker evened it up at seventeen apiece. The Panthers closed the first half out with four straight points, and the Hornets were up against a four point deficit through sixteen minutes of play. After scoring first, the Hornets were never able to reclaim their lead in the first half. The Hornets began the second half with two straight threes from Turner and Hercules, and the team claimed their first lead since the score was 3-2. The theme of the game continued, as the Panthers were able to counter the Nashville burst with four straight points of their own, ultimately reclaiming their small advantage. With roughly two minutes remaining in period three, Ritzel was able to sink a three pointer to put the Hornets ahead by one, but the Panthers scored last in the quarter and owned a 29 to 28 lead with eight minutes left. With roughly six and half minutes to go in the game, Coach Wayne Harre was forced to burn a timeout after the Panthers equaled their biggest lead of the game at five. A Parker bucket and a free throw from Turner put the Hornets back to within a pair with just under three minutes left, but Pinckneyville answered the bell with three straight as well, and the deficit was back to five with just over a minute to play. Missed free throws on behalf of Pinckneyville left the door open for the Hornets to tie the game with less than thirty seconds to go. The score was 38 to 35 when Parker calmy dribbled the ball up the court. After finding Hercules on the left wing, the senior speedster drove the lane, the Panther defense collapsed, and Ritzel wide open on the opposite wing. With no hesitation, the junior rose up and drained the three, tying the game at thirty eight. With 2:04 left in the spar, Pinkneyville’s Hunter Riggins was at the line with a chance to put the Panthers ahead after drawing a blocking call on Hercules. Riggins knocked down the pair, and the Hornets trailed 40 to 38. On Nashville’s ensuing possession, Hercules was able to have the opposite fortune. With 1:12 remaining in the game, Tristen was at the line with a chance to tie the game. To the agony of Hornet fans, both free throws rimmed out, and Nashville was still down two with just over a minute to play. Pinckneyville extended their lead to three after a free throw, but the door was not shut on the visiting Hornets. The next possession, Parker took his defender to the shoulder before maneuvering around him with a nifty spin move. Twenty-five in blue was able to finish off the razzle-dazzle play with a made layup, one in which brought Nashville back to within one. Nashville continued to play the free throw game with the Panthers, and it continued to benefit the Hornets. With 24.8 seconds left, Pinckneyville missed the front end of a one-and-one. Although they were able to convert on the next one, the missed opportunity on the prior shot allowed the Hornets to stay within two. Once again, Parker found himself in the spotlight, as he was able to get to the block, muscle his way around his defender, and complete the scoop shot. It was 42 to 42, but the Panthers were the ones with the ball with fifteen ticks left. The original shot from Yates was unsuccessful, but Dre Scott was there for the put back. The big man was able to bank it home, enabling the host Panthers to win the nail-biter 44 to 42. Parker led the team in scoring with 15, Hercules and Ritzel threw in seven, Turner added six, Pelczynski had five, and Goforth tallied two. The Hornets (24-6) will be back on the court Friday night in a celebration of the seniors against DuQuoin in what will be their regular season finale.