Nashville first must walk past Wooden Shoes to get to state

News-DemocratMarch 10, 2014 

Looking for their first state finals appearance since 2007, the Nashville Hornets know they can rely on the steadying influence of veteran Hall of Fame coach Brad Weathers.

The same Weathers that guided the Carlyle Indians to their first state championship 25 years ago has the Hornets in the super-sectional and looking for more.

Nashville (24-7) will take on Teutopolis (21-9) at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Class 2A Carbondale Super-Sectional, being played at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Ironically, the teams were in the same tournament in January at the Nashville Invitational, but never played each other.

"I didn't get to see them play hardly at all in our tournament," said Weathers, whose team won the consolation championship while T-Town finished fourth. "We got beat in the first round and played in the consolation bracket on opposite nights from them."

The Hornets' coaching staff saw plenty of the Wooden Shoes, who are trying to end a pesky streak of three consecutive super-sectional losses.

The good thing is they keep getting there. Teutopolis also finished third at the 2007 Class A state tournament, second in 2000 and won the 1986 state championship.

Nashville won the 1978 Class A state title and made five state finals appearances from 1997 to 2007 under former coach Darin Lee.

Before 2013-14, the Wooden Shoes had never lost more than four games in a season during the past five years under coach Andy Fehrenbacher.

Teutopolis, which has eight seniors, knocked off Greenville 64-53 to win the Vandalia Sectional. Reed Hardiek had 19 points, Bobby Wenthe had 17 points and nine rebounds and Brett Mette had 12 points.

"The Hardiek kid can really light it up and shoots the three well," said Weathers, who also hopes to corral the aggressive Mette inside. "They're a typical T-Town team; hard-nosed, man-to-man defense, aggressive. All their kids have good skills."

The same holds true for the Hornets, who handled Mt. Carmel 63-55 to win the Du Quoin Sectional.

"I think our defense has gotten better," Weathers said. "There's times where we've shot the ball better lately too, which has helped open some things up."

While Nashville's 6-foot-7 sophomore Royce Newman (13 points per game) has been a force most of the season when healthy, guard Daniel Thorson (9 ppg) has become more of an impact player on offense for the Hornets.

Thorson's ability to score transition baskets and also penetrate the defense are making a difference, according to Weathers.

So has a better brand of shared scoring thanks to players like Keegan Anderson, Clint Johannes, Hunter Beetley and Dylan Mueller.

"Since the NIT, our scoring has been very balanced," Weathers said. "A lot of the other kids are stepping up and we've had three or four different kids in double figures."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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