The Nashville Hornettes picked the perfect time for their best offensive game of the year on Tuesday at Dupo High School.
Sophomore Karly Stanowski scored 17 points and sharpshooting guard Paige Kasten added 16 as the third-seeded Hornettes defeated Dupo 57-33 in a semifinal game at the Class 2A Dupo Girls Basketball Regional.
With the 5-foot-4 Kasten cashing in on three of her four 3-point field goal attempts, Nashville (19-8) jumped out to a 16-9 first quarter lead over an emotionally charged Tigers squad that won 15 games during the regular season.
Stanowski, a powerfully built low post player then went to work in the second quarter, connecting on six of nine from the field as Nashville’s lead grew to 30-16 at halftime.
Dupo, which got a combined 29 points from Megan Brown and Leia Campbell, would get no closer the rest of the night.
“I think this is the most points we’ve scored all year so yes this one of the best games we’ve played,” Nashville coach Doug Althoff said. “The key, and we talked about this before the game, is that we wanted to get Karly (Stanowski) as many touches as we could.
“It wasn’t that she scored every time she got the ball down low. But it seemed like every time she did, something good happened. Either she would score or she was able to get the ball out to the guards on the perimeter. It’s a lot easier to hit shots when that happens. Paige (Kasten) really shot the ball well for us tonight.’’
The win moves Nashville into the regional final and sets up a third meeting of the season with perennial state power Mater Dei. The Knights defeated Nashville 41-36 at the Mascoutah Holiday Tournament and 41-28 three weeks ago.
“What do we have to do to beat Mater Dei. Score one more point then they do this time,” Althoff said, laughing. “Without giving too much away there are some different things we can do this time. Two good teams playing, it should be a good game.’’
Dupo, in the midst of one of the best seasons in recent school history, was hoping to give Nashville a good game on Tuesday. And, for a quarter, the Tigers did. With the high scoring Campbell scoring six early points, Dupo trailed only 8-6 late in the opening period, But a 3-point basket by Kasten and a pair of baskets by sophomore Mackenzie McFeron gave Nashville a 16-9 lead after one quarter.
When Stanowski went to work in the second quarter, the Tigers had little response.
“We’ve been battling some injuries and that really hurt us tonight. We talked about boxing out on Stanowski and for the most part I thought we did a good job of that. But the few times we forgot, she really hurt us down low,” Tigers coach Josh Lemond said. “What can I say about this group of girls. Where they came from with this program and where it was at to where it is now — a season where we set records — it is just a great accomplishment.”
Brown paced Dupo with 15 points, while Campbell added 14.
Mater Dei 51, Marquette 38
The second-seeded Knights (16-11) jumped out to leads of 14-1 and 14-3 after one quarter then struggled the rest of the way but still managed to move into the regional final on Thursday at Dupo High School.
Mater Dei, which defeated the Explorers 71-43 in January, looked as if it would make quick work of coach Meagan Hanlon’s team once again.
But Marquette (13-15), playing relentless defense, wouldn’t go away.
“I don’t know if we got a little lax after the first quarter or what it was. Let’s give Marquette a little credit as well. They started to put the ball in the basket,” Mater Dei coach David Kohnen said. “I did think that after the first quarter didn’t do a very good job of being as aggressive as we needed to be.”
But with sophomore Myah Beckmann and junior Kelsey Gerdes scoring six points early, Mater Dei took a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The Knights lead grew to as many as 15 points early in the second quarter senior Caitlyn Hanlon scored Marquette’s first points from the field — a 12-foot jumper — with 6:45 left in the first half. Hanlon, who led Marquette with 12 points, also added a 3-point field goal as Marquette stayed within 23-13 at halftime.
With Mater Dei still struggling on the offensive end, Marquette closed to within five points on three occasions in the final two quarters. An offensive putback by 6-1 senior Andria Pace with just under five minutes left made the score 39-34, but freshman Ciara Perkes hit a 3-point field goal and Kierra Winkeler made four straight free throws as the Knights extended their lead for the final time.
“It doesn’t matter how you win. This time of year you win and you move on,” Kohnen said. “That’s what5 we did tonight.”
Gerdes led Mater Dei with 16 points, while Winkeler added 10.