NASHVILLE — Nashville caught the final wave of momentum and rode it to a 46-38 win over Sesser-Valier-Waltonville in the championship game of the Nashville Class 2A girls regional.
After a tight first half, Sesser-Valier-Waltonville put together a 16-0 run in the third quarter to take a 35-27 lead into the fourth quarter. That advantage grew to nine points when Brooke Wilderman canned a trey with 7:09 remaining in the game.
However, Nashville regained control of the game, finishing on a 14-0 run of its own.
Hornette center Karly Stanowski fueled the run. The Nashville center scored 12 of Nashville’s 19 fourth quarter points. The 5-foot-9 post player was unstoppable when she got the ball on the block.
“They got us away from that,” said Nashville coach Doug Althoff. “After the timeout at the start of the fourth quarter we said we had to get more touches inside. The main thing was we were unorganized.
“Coach (Rick) Metcalf knew that. He did what he had to do. He had pressure on the ball. We couldn’t get it to her.”
Keeping the ball out of Stanowski’s hands was clearly the Lady Devils’ game plan.
“You choose your death on that,” Metcalf said. “If you double or triple down on her you leave the set shooters open on the perimeter. We weren’t going to do that. We took our chances on single coverage. She scored 29, but she earned everything she had.”
Still, Nashville’s comeback in the fourth quarter seemed improbable. The Lady Red Devils’ press created several turnovers and easy scoring chances in the third quarter. And, that momentum seemed to carry over into the fourth when Wilderman hit the early trey.
“I thought our press did a pretty good job,” Metcalf said. “That’s what got us back in the game.”
“We kind of got a little shaky there and we weren’t in the right spots,” Althoff said. “We tried to get re-organized, that’s what we were doing. Thank God they did it at the end.
“I’ll be honest with you I was getting a little nervous there in the fourth quarter when they got that lead from us.”
After Sesser-Valier-Waltonville took the nine-point lead, Nashville went inside to Stanowski for two straight buckets. The Lady Red Devils called timeout, but turned the ball over when play resumed. Rachael Kell countered with a 3-pointer to pull the Hornettes within two.
“That was huge,” Althoff said. “Then we come down and stopped them and Karly made two free throws to tie it up. Free throws are huge in postseason. You have to make them.”
Stanowski went on a personal 9-0 run to put the game away for Nashville.
“If you would have told me we’d have Nashville down nine in the fourth quarter I would have taken it,” Metcalf said. “We knew they were going to hold their composure. We just had to offset their runs. They made a gigantic run there at the end.”
Stanowski led all scorers with 29. No other Nashville player finished in double figures.
Paige Tucker led the Lady Red Devils with 11. Sami McCowen scored 10.
Sesser-Valier-Waltonville finishes at 25-3. The 22-7 Hornettes advance to the Hamilton County Sectional where they will face Harrisburg Tuesday night.