The Nashville Hornettes girls basketball team does not possess a player who will score 20 to 22 points a night with the ability to take over with the game on the line and pave the way for a victory.
But as highly-successful coach Wayne Harre found out — and what second-year coach Doug Althoff continues to stress — is good defense and balanced scoring can lead to a lot of victories. And during the 2016-17 season, it did.
Second to Carterville in the River-to-River Conference, Nashville (22-6) is the top-seed in the Class 2A Regional-Sectional Complex, which begins this week. The Hornettes will play in the Sparta Regional and will take on either Sparta or Pinckneyville in its opening round game Tuesday. The title game is set for 7 p.m. Thursday.
The first round game against a league foe will prove to be a good test for Nashville, which could meet No. 4 seed Greenville in the title game.
“The good thing is that we’re playing a team we know well and on a court we are familiar with. The tough part is that we’ve beaten both Pinckneyville and Sparta twice, and its tough to beat a team three times in the same year,” Althoff said“But I’d rather be the No. 1 seed like we are this year. If we were the No. 2 or No. 3, we would be playing Althoff on its home floor. That’s tough.”
Nashville relies heavily on a balanced scoring attack, which is led by 6-foot junior Karly Stanowski and guard Paige Kasten. Both Stanowski and Kasten average in double figures, but others such as Rachel Kell, Libby Ahlers and Janie Holle are also capable of scoring.
“Karly and Paige are probably our two leading scorers, but the other night we had Rachel (Kell) come out and give us 16 points. Libby and Janie have had big nights for us as well,” Althoff said. “I am sure that all of our starters have been in double figures this season, and that at one time or another, each of them have led us in scoring. We are very balanced on both ends of the floor.”
Nashville earned the top seed in the regional-sectional complex by beating Althoff 39-33 in the fifth place game at the Mascoutah Holiday Tournament and defeated Mater Dei 44-28 in a regular season game Jan. 28.
The Hornettes have been at their best in tournaments this season. After winning its own Nashville Invitational to kick off the season, Nashville won the fifth place title at Mascoutah then defeated Class 2A power Hillsboro in the consolation title game at the Highland Tournament last month.
“One of our goals was to play in at least four games in our three tournaments and we did that,” Althoff said. “I think we were 11-2 in those three tournaments. That’s pretty good. Hopefully we can have another long run in the postseason as well.”
Class 2A Regional-Sectional Complex
Seeds: 2. Althoff, 3. Mater Dei, 5. Alton Marquette, 9. Wesclin, 11. Wood River, 12. Dupo
Could Surprise: Mater Dei
Synopsis: Two of the true powers in southern Illinois Class 2A basketball, Althoff and Mater Dei are on a collision course to meet in the final on. Thursday at Althoff High School. The two rivals split a pair of meetings during the season with Althoff winning 59-49 on its home court and Mater Dei posting a 40-34 win at the Highland Tournament. The South Seven Conference champion Althoff Crusaders (19-9) are led by two of the top players in the metro-east in seniors Kyleigh Vaught (19.2) and Maggie Reimer (13.0). Coach Nick Knolhoff also has an excellent supporting cast which has improved steadily as the season has gone on. Mater Dei (16-10) is led by Hall of Fame coach David Kohnen and features s balanced attack. Kierra Winkeler (11.0) and Kelsey Gerdes (10.9) are the Knights leading scorers with Logan Braundmeier also capable of a big scoring night.
Seeds: 1. Nashville, 4. Greenville, 6. Red Bud, 7. Pinckneyville, 8. Sparta, 10. Carlyle
Could Surprise: Greenville, Red Bud
Synopsis: Despite a few bumps a long the way in the River-to-River Conference, the Hornettes (22.6) have had a successful season under second year coach Doug Althoff. Winner of the consolation title at the Highland Tournament, Nashville earned the No. 1 seed in the regional-sectional complex after beating both Althoff and Mater Dei in the regular season. The Greenville Comets should pose the stiffest challenge to Nashville at Sparta, but Red Bud (14-13) which is coached by former Okawville standout Haylee Althoff, also has an elite player in Sophie Richards. Haylee Althoff is the daughter of Nashville coach Doug Althoff.