For 16 seasons in a row, the Nashville Hornettes girls basketball team kept adding regional championship plaques to its impressive collection of hardware.
That streak ended Thursday night as Nashville lost 52-36 to a determined and defensively airtight Mater Dei Knights team in the Class 2A Dupo Regional championship game.
“It’s an incredible streak, but sometimes they have to end,” said Nashville coach Doug Althoff, whose team fell behind 28-18 during a decisive second quarter and never recovered while losing to Mater Dei for the third time this season. “I hated for it to end tonight, but there’s always next year and hopefully we can start another one.”
Mater Dei (17-11) got 16 points from junior Logan Braundmeier, 12 from sophomore Myah Beckmann and nine from senior Jenna Toennies. The balanced scoring was nice, but the Knights won this one by slamming the door at the defensive end of the court.
Nashville (19-9) shot well enough, especially in the first half, but was limited to only 12 shots through the first two quarters by the hyper-aggressive Knights. Despite hitting seven of those 12 shots, Nashville trailed 28-18 at halftime after jumping out to an early 10-5 lead thanks in part to 10 first-half turnovers.
We didn’t have a lot of open looks tonight and we made some we were open on, but it seemed to me like every outside shot we had was contested. It’s just hard to shoot with somebody flying out at you like that.
Nashville coach Doug Althoff
“We picked up our defense,” Toennies said. “We got settled. I think we were a a little nervous at the beginning. We got used to the floor again and we got into it.”
Mater Dei advances to the Vienna Sectional and will face Carterville at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals.
“We had a really good start and then they just kind of turned up the intensity,” Althoff said. “It was hard to run any sets at all, they were just a little quicker than we were off the ball. It was hard for us to get open, to be honest with you. Their defense was very good.”
Mater Dei coach Dave Kohnen was in total agreement with that point after his team helped force 18 turnovers and made things uncomfortable for the Hornettes most of the night.
“I told our girls I thought we could play hard-nosed defense and really pressure (them) ... just like we played against some of the tougher teams and they did it to us,” Kohnen said. “I thought the kids just did a great job on defense. We had a couple steals on the wings and we went in for layups and I think it made a difference.”
A 3-pointer by Braundmeier helped open things up for the Knights in the second quarter and Kierra Winkeler scored twice in a row off turnovers to push the lead to nine late in the half.
“I think our defense is what maybe helped us, but on the offensive side we really were successful with our shots and everything was falling in,” Braundmeier said, and that included a banked-in 3-pointer by Beckmann to end the third quarter.
Nashville, which started four sophomores and a junior, got 11 points from Janie Holle, 10 from Mackenzie McFeron and nine from Karly Stanowski.
“We didn’t have a lot of open looks tonight and we made some we were open on,” Althoff said, “but it seemed to me like every outside shot we had was contested. It’s just hard to shoot with somebody flying out at you like that.”
Thompson breaks Triad scoring record
There wasn’t much drama Thursday night for Triad senior Sophie Thompson, who knew she would break the school scoring record with the first point she scored.
Thompson didn’t stop scoring until she finished with 34 points, leading Triad to a 70-51 victory over Waterloo. Thompson, headed to Central Methodist, now stands atop the school’s girls basketball scoring list with 1,591 points and counting.
“She got it early and you could tell tell the weight kind of lifted off her shoulders,” Triad coach Josh Hunt said. “She’s playing within a team game and that’s been phenomenal. This is something she really want to do and she’s deserving of it because she’s worked so hard.
“She’s a dynamic offensive player and I’m sure as heck happy she wears a Triad uniform.”
Triad (23-3), ninth in the Class 3A state rankings, earned a tie with rival Highland for the Mississippi Valley Conference championship. Both teams finished with 9-1 league marks, but Thompson was the story again Thursday.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Hunt said. “She’s a special talent and she can score at all three levels. She can shoot from the outside, she’s got a great mid-range game and she can get to the hole.”