On the opening night of the Nashville Invitational Tournament, the host Nashville Hornets looked like they were ready to head into the locker room and not come back.
Down by 13 early in the second half, the Hornets looked like a completely different squad the rest of the way and stunned Teutopolis 56-51 for their sixth straight win.
Nashville junior guard Hayden Heggemeier helped ignite the comeback from a 31-18 deficit, draining two quick 3-pointers in the third quarter that gave the Hornets (12-6) new life. Heggemeier scored nine of his team-leading 13 points in the second half.
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Teutopolis (15-3) was fifth in the latest Class 2A state rankings while Nashville was 22nd.
“It’s real special, it’s fun to play in this tournament,” Heggemeier said. “There’s a lot of good teams and I just love the atmosphere. (The win) is a big morale booster. We struggled in the Mater Dei Tournament and then we started winning some more games ... we feel like we can play with anone right now.”
They didn’t look like that in the first half, or anything close to it. Teutopolis guard Mich Hardiek shredded the Hornets’ zone defense for 14 points in the first quarter, sinking his first five shots.
We feel like we can play with anyone right now.
Nashville guard Hayden Heggemeier
Hardiek had 16 points by halftime, but after an inspirational talk from Nashville coach Brad Weathers the Hornets limited Hardiek to only a pair of free throws in the second half.
“We challenged them at halftime,” said Weathers, whose team outscored the Wooden Shoes 38-24 in the second half. “I thought we were playing tentative, a couple of the kids were playing tentative and understandably so. T-Town’s awfully good, they’re big, physical and skilled.
“We’d given up nine offensive rebounds ... we had nine turnovers and we were 4-for-9 at the free-throw line. We challenged them to get out there and compete, to get out there and match not only the intensity, which I thought was fine, but that competitive edge. I thought we came through well with that.”
Nashville also got 12 points each from Brady Bultman and Royce Newman and 10 from Brogan Kemp. The University of Nebraska offensive coordinator and offensive line coach were at the game watching Newman, who originally committed to Missouri but plans to visit Ole Miss this weekend. Penn State, Arkansas and Georgia are also interested.
“We hit some shots (in the first half), but we didn’t totally dominate,” Teutopolis coach Jason Hanson said. “I think it was a lack of effort on our part. Sometimes you don’t make shots or sometimes things don’t go just your way, but you can always play defense - which our defense was terrible. You can always rebound, our rebounding was terrible.
“We didn’t play very hard, to be honest with you.”
Brett Mette added 13 points for T-Town and Kyle Smith had 10.
The two 3-pointers by Heggemeier were huge and Ryan Brink hit another near the end of the third quarter to tie it 40-40.
Teutopolis led 49-47 after a quick burst, but the Hornets were relentless. Also key was a technical foul on Hanson with 7:43 remaining that led to a free throw by Bultman and a basket by Newman.
We challenged them to get out there and compete, to get out there and match not only the intensity, which I thought was fine, but that competitive edge. I thought we came through well with that.
Nashville coach Brad Weathers
The Wooden Shoes had only one lead after that as the Hornets sank 8-of-13 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold on.
“It’s hard when you’ve got four guys with two fouls in the first half,” Hanson said. “I’m still trying to find out what they did on some of those plays, to be quite honest. We had three fouls in the first 32 seconds of the game and I thought two of them were clean.”
Newman scored six of his 12 points down the stretch to help seal the win, but his assault on the rim forced the Shoes to leave Heggemeier and Bultman a little more available for scoring.
“They were doubling down on Royce and helping from the weak side,” Weathers said. “(Heggemeier knocked down two big threes and our scoring was very balanced in the second half.”
Central 64, Mascoutah 44
After taking turns running away from Mascoutah only to see the Indians claw their way back, the Central Cougars finally put the Indians away.
Leading 28-20 at halftime, Central (16-2) stretched the lead to 42-29 after three quarters and never looked back. It was an extreme balanced scoring night for the Cougars, who were led by 16 points from senior guard Logan Kohrmann.
Jack Strieker aded 12, Chase Schneider dropped in three 3-pointers among his 11 points for the Cougars and Kolby Schulte added 10.
“I do like this balanced scoring and we’re back to full strength,” Central coach Jeremy Shubert said. “We got good minutes from 10 guys tonight. Logan led the way with 16 and he attacked the rim.
“I like the balance and that team’s a lot better than when we played them the first time. “
Central defeated Mascoutah 59-36 on Dec. 26 at the Mater Dei Christmas Tournament.
Mascoutah’s Ethan Mayberry led all scorers with 24 points while teammate Blake Weiss added 10 for the Indians (4-14), who had won three of their previous four games.
Kohrmann helped get the Cougars off to a strong start, scoring 10 of his 16 point in the opening quarter.