Nashville senior Erica Brown and the Hornettes finally got some redemption Saturday in the title game of the 35th annual Mascoutah Girls Basketball Invitational.
And a little payback along the way.
Struggling with her shooting touch earlier in the tournament, Brown came alive when Nashville needed her most as she scored 11 points to help lead the Hornettes to a 44-31 win over Central in the title game.
A 6-foot senior, Brown tallied six of her points in the second quarter to help keep Nashville close before teammates Jordi Harre, Hannah Yung and Shawn Rennegarbe took over in the second half to help give Nashville its first Mascoutah Invitational championship.
Central, getting 12 points from Maddie Timmermann, led by as many as six points in the first half. But after losing to Highland and Mater Dei in the title game the last two years, Nashville wasn't going to be denied for a third straight year.
"After losing the last two years to finally be able to win here is great. It means a lot,'' Brown said. "I had struggled for a couple of games, but sometimes you've got to take it upon yourself to create your own shots. That's what I did.''
Rennegarbe, Yung and Jordi Harre then combined for 19 of Nashville's 28 points in the second half as coach Wayne Harre's team pulled away late for a win over the cold-shooting Cougars
The game also was the first between the two Class 2A state powers since a sectional title game a year ago, which was won by Central. The Cougars went on to place second at the Class 2A state tournament.
"Tonight, we made some baskets and we executed pretty well. We had too," Nashville coach Wayne Harre said. "Central is a good team and if you don't execute you are not going to score.
"We talked about trying to have some fun out there tonight and I think we did. I'm happy for the kids because it makes them feel good about themselves. That's important.''
Although, Central came out on the losing end, coach Nathan Rueter has to feel good about his team, which heads into the second half of the season with a 15-2 mark.
But on this night the shots wouldn't fall.
"Our shot selection in the first half was questionable. But we just struggled to make shots. Give Nashville some credit for that. Those kids play some defense,'' Rueter said. "I thought we did a good job on the defensive end as well. The difference was that every time there was a loose ball and offensive rebound, it ended up in one of their kids' hands.''
Rockets, Lancers shine
Almost overlooked this weekend was the play of Okawville and Belleville East, both of which had outstanding tournaments.
Okawville, getting strong play from Quincy University recruit Megan Wienstroer, defeated the Lancers 51-44 in the third-place game.
A Class 1A team, Okawville (12-4) also defeated Class 3A state power Mater Dei in the quarterfinals.
"I'm going to be totally honest with you," Okawville coach Michelle Hasheider-Burianek said. "This group of seniors has been beaten since they were freshmen and so to be able to go into the locker room and here these girls talking about knowing that they can beat these large school teams, is great to hear.
"Now our schedule doesn't get any easier the rest of the year but I would hope that come tournament time these types of games will have helped us.''
Belleville East coach Andrea Seipp, who was a teammate with Hasheider-Burianek on Okawville's 1994 state title team, also has reason to smile, even though her team dropped the third-place game.
The Lancers head into the 2013 portion of their schedule with a 9-7 record and with a boost of confidence.
East was led by a solid tournament effort from senior Aniecia Brewster.
"It was a positive experience for these girls and this program. It's been a few years since we had been in the semifinals and it was great to be back,'' Seipp said. "I thought our girls played hard and did a lot of good things this week.
"Our goal is to keep working hard and improving each game and each week. We want to be playing our best basketball in February.''
Nashville's Jordi Harre and Shawn Rennegarbe highlighted the all-tournament first team, which also included Okawville's Megan Wienstroer and Central's Maddie Timmermann and April Gebke.
Chosen to the second team were Erica Brown of Nashville, Jasmine Bonds of O'Fallon, Shay Fluker of Belleville West, Anna Lampe of Mater Dei and Aniecia Brewster of Belleville East.