Senior Janie Holle wasn’t Nashville’s first option, but she ended up being its best.
Holle took a pass in the lane and sank a 12-footer with seven seconds to play Tuesday, elevating the top-seeded Hornettes to a 42-40 victory over fourth-seeded Greenville in the championship game of the Class 2A Sparta Regional.
“I got the ball and I was like, ‘Either we make it or we don’t,’” said the 5-foot-10 Holle, whose 18 points led all scorers. “So I put it up and it went in, and it was the best feeling ever. I was supposed to pass it off to one of the shooters, but I saw they were guarded and I was like, ‘I’m just going to take it.’ I put it up.”
The Hornettes (24-6), who led 31-17 in the third quarter, will play Harrisburg in the semifinals of the Johnston City Sectional at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Harrisburg defeated West Frankfort 56-52 to win the West Frankfort Regional on Thursday.
Greenville finished 18-9.
Nashville coach Doug Althoff said the plan was for junior Paige Kasten to get the final shot, but Kasten was guarded closely by the Comets, which opened things up for Holle.
“It’s a set play,” Althoff said. “It didn’t really come out the way we usually run it. As soon as I saw where they were (defensively), I knew they would follow Paige Kasten to the corner. They all kind of went for her, and that left Janie open. Give her a lot of credit; she stepped up and made a big, huge shot.”
Nashville led 11-7 after one quarter, and freshman Sabrina Kollbaum banked in a 3-pointer ahead of the halftime buzzer to put the Hornettes ahead 23-17 at the break.
The lead swelled to 31-17 when Nashville scored the first eight points of the second half. But Greenville’s press forced seven Hornettes turnovers in the third quarter, which ended with the Comets trailing just 31-29.
The Hornettes led 40-37 with 31 seconds left, but Greenville sophomore Nancy Fritzsche popped a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie it at 40 with 15 seconds left.
After a Nashville timeout, Holle delivered her clutch shot. After Greenville’s subsequent timeout, junior Kalie Meadows’ long 3-pointer was way short and went out of bounds. The Hornettes inbounded the ball to kill the final half-second.
“We threw it to the wrong person, and (Meadows) actually had a teammate that told her to shoot,” Greenville coach Kolin Dothager said. “That’s why she shot it. We actually had a little bit more time. It’s not the way we wanted to end it.”
Dothager credited Holle for her performance.
“She had a heck of a game,” he said. “Hats off to her for beating us. It stings, and it should. We’re going to be feeling that sting for a while. It should drive our offseason.”
Junior Karly Stanowski added nine points for Nashville. Greenville was led by sophomore Ally Cantrill’s 13 points and Meadows’ 11 points.