The Nashville Hornets defeated Southwestern 52-29 to win the Class 2A Carlinville regional championship Friday night.
The reward for Nashville is a spot in the sectional on its own court Tuesday night against Pinckneyville, a 63-52 winner over DuQuoin in the Trico Regional.
The Hornets have lost to conference rival Pinckneyville twice this season. The last meeting was a 59-56 overtime thriller on Feb. 11.
“They are awfully good; there is no question about it,” Nashville coach Brad Weathers said of the Panthers. “We had them on the ropes last time we played them and couldn’t get it done, so we are going to have to play extremely well. Not only are we going to have to guard, but we are going to have to handle the ball. They try and wear you down with their relentless defense, so we’ll have to take care of the basketball.”
Nashville used strong defense to defeat the Birds in the regional championship game. The Hornets won their two postseason games by a combined score of 124-58, holding both Carlinville and Southwestern to fewer than 30 points in each contest.
Nashville outrebounded the Birds 32-11, outscoring Southwestern 21-2 during an eight-minute span in the second and third quarters. The Hornets led by 20 points a minute-and-a-half into the third quarter. The Birds were never able to get closer than that the rest of the game.
“The ballgame was our defense,” Weathers said. “We really guarded their sets well and really took away some things that they do very well. I thought we had a lot of stops and a lot of hustle baskets tonight. You can’t win this time of year without good defense.”
Ryan Brink led the Hornets with 17 points, going 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Brogan Kemp added 11 points, as Hayden Heggemeier ended with nine points and eight rebounds.
Nashville shot 54 percent from the field for the game, hitting 21 of 39 shots to improve to 19-12 for the season.
Collin Baumgartner led the Birds with 11 points as Southwestern ends its season with a mark of 19-10.