The Hornets got a career best 32 points from Royce Newman Tuesday night against Okawville, and Nashville needed every one of those points.
Nashville held off a late rally by the Rockets to knock off its Washington County rivals 58-56 before a packed Assembly Hall.
It was a heavyweight battle between Okawville, 13-1 and the No. 1 ranked team in the News-Democrat’s Small School Poll, and No. 5 Nashville. And it was a game that went down to the final bell.
“You can’t come into Nashville’s building and only play eight minutes,” said Rockets coach Jon Kraus. “Not only did we not play well but we didn’t have any intensity from the start for whatever.
“You would think that you would come off a tournament like that with a lot of momentum, but for some reason it wasn’t there tonight,” the coach said of his team’s championship at the Mater Dei Tournament. “The teams we are going to play in the next couple of weeks, you have play 32 minutes.”
Newman went 13 for 18 from the field and 6 for 10 from the free throw line for his 32 points. His biggest point, however, was his free throw with 13 seconds left to put the Hornets ahead by four.
“My teammates got me the ball in the right position and I was able to score,” said the 6-7 Newman, who’s previous best was 27 points. “We’ve only had two home games all year so it was nice to get back here against Okawville with a packed house, it was a good win.”
Okawville’s Noah Frederking ended with a team-high 19 points, despite being frustrated most of the evening by Nashville’s Jaris Dalman. Frederking, who had just six points in the first half, scored seven points in the final 36 seconds of the game during the Rockets late charge. Frederking was 7-22 from the field for the game.
“Jaris did a phenomenal job again,” Hornet coach Brad Weathers said of Dalman, who held Frederking to eight points during the Mater Dei Tournament.
“Not only is Jaris quick and anticipates well, but he is physically strong,” he added. “I know Noah didn’t shoot the ball that well, but I’d like to think Jaris took him out of his rhythm.”
Shane Ganz finished with 14 for Okawville, as Alec Wisneski added 13.
The Hornets never trailed in the game and led by as many as 12 points in the second half.
Nashville looked to be in control following two free throws from Hayden Heggemeier to lead 55-46 with 1:08 remaining.
But Okawville would use two straight turnovers from its full-court pressure to go on a quick 7-0 run to close the gap to 55-53 with 32 seconds still to play.
But the Hornets would get a layup from Ryan Brink and a free throw from Newman to hold off the Rockets.
“Thankfully the game didn’t go any longer,” Weathers said, whose team improved to 8-6. “That nine point lead went to two in a hurry, but hopefully that will help us understand what we need to get done. We needed that win badly.”