NASHVILLE — Nashville junior Jordi Harre made sure that her coach -- and father's -- 49th birthday was truly a happy one Thursday at Nashville's Assembly Hall.
Harre scored nine of her 17 points to spark a 14-2 Hornettes' third-quarter scoring run as Nashville went on 37-24 win over Pinckneyville in the title game of the Class 2A Nashville Regional.
Playing their River-to-River Conference foe for the third time this season, and second time in a week, the Panthers (18-13) trailed just 17-15 at halftme.
But Harre then took over.
The 5-foot-7-inch junior made a free throw and Shawn Rennegarbe scored on a 10-foot jumper to increase the lead to 20-15.
Harre then scored eight straight points, six of which came on a 3-pointer and a conventional three-point play, as Nashville (26-3) broke the game open.
"Now, I can say it was a happy birthday,'' Hornettes coach Wayne Harre said. "We were looking for that run a little earlier, but we were finally able to get it and give ourselves a little gap.
"I thought our defense picked it up in the third quarter and we did a better job of rebounding.''
The regional title is the 14th straight for the defending Class 2A state champion Hornettes, who will advance to the West Frankfort Sectional on Tuesday at 6 p.m., when they will play Sesser-Valier.
Sesser-Valier defeated Benton 56-48 in the title game of the DuQuoin Sectional on Thursday.
Nashville came out firing in the first quarter, with Harre and Rennegarbe both hitting 3s while scoring five points apiece as the Hornettes grabbed a quick 10-4 lead in the first four minutes.
But Nashville couldn't sustain its red-hot start and managed just seven points over the final 12 minutes of the opening half.
Pinckneyville, meanwhile, chipped away.
The Panthers tied the game twice, but Rennegarbe scored four of her 11 points late in the second quarter to help give Nashville a slim halftime lead.
"The adrenaline was flowing and I thought we came out and played very well early. But then we kind of lost it a little bit. That happens sometimes,'' Harre said. "This was the third time we've played them and it was a case of we know what they like to do and they know us. They're a pretty good team.
"I didn't think we did a very good job of rebounding in the first half, but the second half we were able to do a better job and our defense.
The Nashville defense was better than just good in the final two quarters, as it gave up just seven points -- all to Panthers senior Katelyn Mayer.
Mayer, closing out a four year career which saw her score more then 1,000 points, led the Panthers with 15 points.
"She's been a big part of our program and we're going to miss her,'' Panthers coach Alan Engelhardt said. "I thought our girls competed hard tonight. We just had that six-minute stretch in the third quarter where they had that big scoring run.
"We just fell short tonight.''