NASHVILLE — It was a playoff-type atmosphere in Assembly Hall as the Nashville and Pinckneyville met for the first time this season, with both teams coming in unbeaten in SIRR Mississippi Division play.
The Hornets controlled much of the game, but the Panthers used a fourth quarter comeback to take a 45-38 win on Friday.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game," said Panthers coach Bob Waggoner. "Nashville is well-tested, they play a tough schedule, good good guard play. They don't turn it over that much. We knew it was going to be a tough ball game up here.”
Pinckneyville trailed most of the contest, and did not take the lead until there was 2:20 left in the fourth quarter. The Hornets controlled the action as they led by six at the end of the first, five at halftime, and six at the end of the third quarter.
The Panthers did not shoot the ball well from the field in the first half. Pinckneyville was just 1 of 6 from beyond the arc, and 7 of 16 from the field. Nashville was 9 of 19 from the field in the first half, incluidng 1 of 2 from three-point range, helping the Hornets to a 26-21 halftime advantage.
After a low scoring third frame, Pinckneyville came alive in the fourth. The Panthers, down 32-26 at the start of the frame, got a three pointer from Dawson Yates, and continued plugging away at the Hornets' lead from there.
The Panthers went on a 10-2 run to take the lead with 2:20 remaining in the game, taking the lead on a three point play by J.C. Moll.
Free throws were key down the stretch, as Pinckneyville hit 18 of 21 for the contest.
“We just got to get better down the stretch," said Hornets coach Wayne Harre. "Coaches talked about it at the end of the game, we just have to make some plays down the stretch, and if we do that we will be a pretty dangerous team."
The Panthers were led by Yates, who was the only Pinckneyville player in double figures with 16. Moll added nine points followed by Tyler Rice with six points.
The Hornets were led by Bryce Bultman, who finished with 24 points in the contest. Bultman did most of the work, as no other Nashville player finished with more than four points, something Harre said they need to work on.
“We got to find something," Harre noted. "We got to find someone to step up and shoot it. We're looking for that right now, and we haven't got it right now. I think we're capable of it, we just haven't got it thus far.”
Waggoner praised Bultman after the game, but credited the Panthers' defense in tiring him out.
“He earned every one of those, and really did a great job of playing," Waggoner said. "I thought he was tired late. I know he had 16 at half, so I thought even though our press wasn't getting turnovers, our press was doing a good job of wearing him and (Carson) Parker out in the second half.”