Hornets take conference command
Nashville throttles short-handed Panthers; Lead SIRR Mississippi Division
- The return match up between SIRR Mississippi Division rivals Nashville and Pinckneyville on Saturday night didn't turn out to be the kind of contest that most fans had in mind when they entered Nashville's Assembly Hall.

The two teams battled back on January 4th with the host Panthers escaping with a 31-29 win.

Another close game would naturally ensue in the rematch, right?

Well, not exactly.

The Hornets took complete control of Round Two in the conference series as they took command early to earn a split of the two games played, 52-25, in a game that wasn't even as close as the score reflected.

Nashville forced the Panthers into nearly as many turnovers as points during a game that ended up with a continuous clock in the fourth quarter.

Coach Wayne Harre saw his ABV top ranked 2A squad push its overall mark to 28-2 on the season and now 8-1 in the league.

The two main catalysts for the Hornets, as they have been this year, are senior guard Bryson Bultman and junior backcourt mate Carson Parker.

The 6-foot-5 duo scored 17 and 14 points respectively in the “white wash” of Pinckneyville.

Junior forward Matt Anderson added six-points on a pair of 3-point bombs while junior forward Tommy Pelczynski and junior guard Tristen Hercules added five points each.

Everyone in a uniform that got on the floor for the Hornets contributed in the victory.

A win next Friday in the regular season finale at Du Quoin over the Indians will give the Hornets the outright SIRR Mississippi Division championship.

In writing a post-script of the Nashville triumph, the game story began and ended on the defensive end of the floor.

Nashville forced their rivals into a excessive amount of mistakes that took away any chance the Panthers (23-5, 7-2) might have had for a road win.

Coach Bob Waggoner's team committed a “head scratching” eight first quarter turnovers and missed its first three shots from the floor.

“I thought we did a good job guarding them tonight. They are missing Yates, who is a tremendous player for them, but we guarded them much better this time then we did the first time we played them,” said Coach Harre. “We were sluggish the first time we played them but we moved quicker with our feet against them this time.”

The Panthers fell behind 6-3 in a lackluster first quarter.

Playing without team leading scorer junior guard Dawson Yates, who is out with a back injury, Pinckneyville struggled trying to replicate what this team leader brings to the table, especially on offense.

“I thought that even with our turnovers (early) we were competitive. But as time wore on their (Nashville) offense skill was greater than ours so they got easier baskets than what we did,” said Coach Waggoner. “I'm sitting there at the end of the night and they put up '52-points' and I have to ask 'why did we only score 25?' As a coach you have to look at that and decide is it their defense or is it our lack of offensive skill? I think it was a combination of both.”

While it took Nashville a bit of time to warm up offensively on Saturday, they “stoked the scoring fire” in the second quarter as they showed Pinckneyville the “tail lights” for the rest of the night.

The Hornets nailed their first five shot attempts in the second period, going on a 13-2 run.

Pelczynski nailed a long 3-point shot to open the scoring and Parker cut to the basket for a pair of scores.

Pelczynski scored his second basket of the frame and Hercules spotted up in the left corner for a 3-pointer for a 19-5 lead with 3:45 to go in the second.

“Our other kids (besides Bultman and Parker) stepped up and they are all capable. They did that tonight and hit some big shots for us,” said Coach Harre. “We work on getting the ball in a good spot to shoot it. The passes are where the kids can catch it a shoot it at the same time.”

If you were looking for the one bright spot in a “murky pool of gloom” on this night for Pinckneyville it was the play of 6-foot junior Hunter Riggins.

Riggins scored 16-points for Pinckneyville, and his conventional three-point play got his team back to within 11-points before the break.

However a rebound score by Nashville senior center Tanner Bergmann and another drive for a score from Bultman gave the Hornets a 24-8 halftime spread.

The Panthers went to the lockers with more turnovers (9) than points as they couldn't come up with any answers against the hosts.

When they needed a big start to the second half, Coach Waggoner's club produced more of the same mistakes they had made in the first 16 minutes.

In five consecutive possessions to begin the third quarter, Pinckneyville added three more turnovers and a pair of missed shots.

Seven straight points from the Hornets, with a 3-pointer from the right wing converted by Anderson, and two driving lay ins by Parker, forced a Pinckneyville timeout at 31-8 with 4:28 remaining.

Riggins scored four-straight points for Pinckneyville, which were all the points the Panthers could get to finish the third.

Bultman scored the next five points for the Hornets by hitting a free throw and a pair of shots in the lane.

Nashville had a possession where they missed four shots but grabbed four rebounds, with the last board coming to Bultman who stuck the rebound back in for points.

When he added the second bucket on a drive in the lane, the lead was 36-12 heading to the final quarter.

A 3-pointer by freshman Duke Riggins opened the scoring in the final quarter for Pinckneyville.

Then Nashville put the game away by spreading the floor and scoring inside on drives and cuts to the basket.

Bultman and Parker exchanged gifts on consecutive chances, each handing out an assist to the other for inside baskets.

Senior guard Kelton Harre got into the scoring act with field goal on a drive in the lane for a 42-15 lead.

Before Coach Harre went to his reserve unit late in the game, Parker added one more score on an “And-One”

Duke and Hunter Riggins hit 3-pointers for Pinckneyville in the final minutes.

When Hunter nailed his from the top of the arc with 4:29 left it was significant.

It was the first time of the contest in which the Panthers had more points (18) then they had turnovers (16).

Two free throws by Parker and a lay in by Hercules “muscled” the lead to 51-21 which triggered the “mercy rule.”

“They play good defense, too and it is always a physical game with them. And it took us a while to get going but once we did we just kept 'grinding and grinding' so that was good,” said Coach Harre. “I thought we attacked the offensive glass. You have to go and get it.”

The Panthers performance didn't look any better on paper than it did in person.

Pinckneyville hit just 10-of-30 shots overall (30 percent) and were out-rebounded 27-10.

All ten of their rebounds were on the defensive end as they got zero second chance points.

The 16-turnovers, eight in the first quarter and six in the third quarter, prevented any sort of offensive flow.

“My biggest thing is this. The players who step out on the floor have to do their job. And tonight we didn't get that done,” said Coach Waggoner.

The Hornets were “workmen-like” in their decisive win.

Coach Harre saw his team hit half of its field goal attempts (20-of-40) while committing just nine turnovers.

Pinckneyville will close out its regular season next Friday at home against Carterville.

Both the Hornets and Panthers could hook up once again with much more on the line in three weeks.

While being on the opposite sides of the sub-sectional bracket, Nashville and Pinckneyville could meet in the sectional final at Du Quoin on March 1.

“We hope that we will be ready to roll (postseason) when it starts. The kids are playing with confidence and they have played in a lot of big games,” said Coach Harre. “I'm hoping that all of our tough games that we have played will help us in the postseason. Our schedule has been tough and we have been on the road so much.”

PInckneyville (25) – Restoff 0 0 0-2 0, D. Riggins 0 2 0-0 6, Linze 0 1 0-0 3, Tanner 0 0 0-0 0, Carter 0 0 0-0 0, Scott 0 0 0-0 0, H. Riggins 6 1 1-1 16, Houghland 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-6, 3FG-4, FT-1-3, PF-14.

Nashville (52)
– Hercules 1 1 0-0 5, Morris 0 0 1-2 1, Harre 1 0 0-0 2, Bultman 6 0 2-4 14, Maschhoff 0 0 0-0 0, Goforth 0 0 0-0 0, Parker 6 0 5-7 17, Pelczynski 1 1 0-0 5, Turner 0 0 0-0 0, Bergmann 1 0 0-0 2, Anderson 0 2 0-0 6.
2FG-16, 3FG-4, FT-8-13, PF-8.

Fouled Out
– None.
Technical Fouls
– None.