The matchup that has been predicted for weeks finally comes to fruition Tuesday as Nashville will take on Breese Central in the semifinals of the Class 2A Dupo sectional.
Both teams were state ranked in The Associated Press’s final Top 10 poll of the season, with the Cougars ranked second and the Hornettes fourth. Nashville already owns a 44-31 win over Breese Central in the championship game of the Mascoutah Invitational Tournament back in December, but that means little now.
“I think playing them throughout the year, they’re going to do what they do well and we’re going to do what we do well,” said Nashville coach Wayne Harre. “It’s all about execution at this point of the year.”
The Hornettes (28-2) used their trademark defense to shut down Sesser-Valier-Waltonville on Thursday to win the Zeigler-Royalton regional, limiting the Lady Red Devils to just four points in the first half of a 51-27 victory. Breese Central (29-2) drained six 3-pointers to defeat a tough Carlyle team, 57-43, for the third time this season in the finale of the Cougars’ own regional.
“They play such a fast-paced game,” Harre said of Breese Central. “They want to get up and down the floor and score some points and I think (Cougars coach Nathan Rueter) feels that this is one of the better offensive teams he’s had.”
Breese Central, the reigning Class 2A state runner-up, ended Nashville’s attempt to make it four state appearances in a row with a win over the Hornettes in 2012’s Sesser-Valier sectional championship.
“I think, since 2009, it’s been us or them going to the state tournament,” Harre said. “Most of the time, it’s been whoever wins this game has a great chance at getting to state.”
Nashville’s losses are to Class 3A schools Belleville West and Quincy Notre Dame, while Breese Central’s other loss has come at the hands of crosstown rival Breese Mater Dei.
The winner of this contest will take on the winner of Tuesday’s 8 p.m. matchup between Red Bud and Carterville at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the sectional championship. Red Bud won its first regional title since 1995, while the Lady Lions took home a regional plaque for the first time in six years.
In Class 1A, Cairo takes on state-ranked Goreville at 6 p.m. today in the Blackcats’ own sectional. The Co-Pilots (11-7), as the No. 1 seed, won their first regional title since 1987 with a win over Cobden in the Appleknockers’ own regional finale Thursday.
“It’s been 26 years since we won a regional and it means a lot to the kids,” said Cairo coach Kelly Shepard. “I start four sopho-mores and a first-year senior and I’m really proud of them.”
The 1987 regional plaque capped a great four-year run for the Cairo program, which included a third-place finish at the state tournament in 1985. Subsequent years have been difficult, but the 2012-13 season could be the start of something great once again.
“It’s just a good bunch of girls,” Shepard said of her team, which has played a lot of Kentucky and Missouri competition this sea-son as an independent school. “They want to come to practice, they want to learn and we’re going to try and stay together and play as a team.”
Goreville (29-1), ranked fourth in The Associated Press’s poll, had little trouble winning the Gallatin County regional, defeating host Gallatin County and Century by a combined 92 points.
Galatia-Thompsonville and Red Hill will play at 8 p.m. tonight in the other semifinal, with the winners facing each other at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
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