In a game that could easily have been played in a super-sectional or even the state tournament given the combined talent, top-ranked Nashville and third-ranked Teutopolis put on a show Monday night at the Nashville Invitational Tournament.
Teutopolis claimed a 46-42 victory in this battle of Class 2A powers, relying on clutch free throws down the stretch and a late 3-pointer by sophomore Mitch Hardiek.
The Wooden Shoes from Teutopolis improved to 16-2 and got 12 points from Hardiek and Brett Mette. Nashville fell to 17-2 and suffered its first loss since a Dec. 6 defeat to Columbia.
“Regardless of how you come out of this thing, if you go at it with the right frame of mind you can’t not improve coming through a tournament like this,” Nashville coach Brad Weathers said of the five-team round-robin format. “The competition is tremendous and it’s going to be a long week of good basketball.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Trailing by eight early in the third quarter, Nashville fought back to gain the lead on two Daniel Thorson free throws with 2:57 remaining that capped a 7-2 run. The Hornets missed a chance to build on that lead when they missed the front end of a one-and-one chance, then paid for it when Hardiek broke free in the corner and nailed a 3-pointer with 1:22 remaining.
Nashville tied it once more on a shot by Troy Pedtke, but Brett Mette and Michael Drees each hit two foul shots in the final 23 seconds to secure the victory.
Hardiek also sank late 3-pointers at the end of the second and third quarters and finished with 12 points, all on threes.
“We just broke down and didn’t get it covered,” Weathers said. “We’re very aware that he’s the shooter and we didn’t get it covered a couple times. That was huge.”
T-town coach Andy Fehrenbacher has no problem with his sophomore letting it fly from the outside.
“There’s ice in his veins,” Fehrenbacher said. “He’s not afraid to take that shot. We’re comfortable with it, he knows that we all have confidence in him and he’s not afraid to pull the trigger.”
The tight man-to-man defense of T-town took its toll as the game wore on as Nashville committed 23 turnovers to 17 by the Wooden Shoes. Another big factor in that defense was T-town’s ability to keep Nashville’s 6-foot-7 leading scorer Royce Newman in check, holding him to six points with extreme physical play inside.
“He is an excellent player and definitely somebody that’s going to get a lot of attention,” said Fehrenbacher, who credited Jordan Thoele and Kyle Smith for their defensive work. “I know a lot of teams try to sag off and give help that way (but) we chose to get out and get after ballhandlers and get tight on them so they couldn’t make easy passes into him.”
Nashville’s Dylan Mueller, who was held scoreless until erupting for eight quick points in the third quarter, finished with 10 points and Hunter Cooper also had 10. Daniel Thorson added eight points.
The Hornets broke on top 10-3 and things seemed to be fairly smooth, but the relentless Wooden Shoes defense would not back off.
Nashville went nearly eight minutes without scoring while the Wooden Shoes went on an 18-3 run to grab a 21-13 lead. The Hornets did not score in the second quarter until Troy Pedtke ended the drought with 3:50 remaining in the half.
“W anticipated that, we knew it would be a hard-nosed man-to-man defense and (they) get up on you, really physical,” Weathers said. “It made it difficult for us to enter our offense and run it, and we knew that. They’ve done that for years.”
A 3-pointer by T-town’s Mitch Hardiek gave the Wooden Shoes a 25-19 halftime lead.
Central 61, Mascoutah 48: Central fired in nine 3-pointers and shook off an early hot streak by Mascoutah before rolling to victory in the tourney opener. Junior guard Logan Kohrmann led the way for the Cougars with four 3-pointers and 19 points while Jack Strieker had 11 and Chase Schneider had nine.
Chris Simmons had all 11 of his points in the opening quarter to help fuel Mascoutah’s quick start, but didn’t score again. The Indians (6-12) hung close through halftime, trailing only 33-29 after Tim Parks tossed in a 30-footer just ahead of the halftime buzzer.
Parks led Mascoutah with 15 points and Thomas Trumbull had 11.
Central kept banging away from the outside and pulled away soon after, outscoring the Indians 13-4 in the third quarter and 28-19 in the second half.