The Nashville Hornets are set to play for the Class 2A state title on Saturday. It will be the Hornets first state championship game since 2014. The Hornets battled a physical Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley team to come away with a 47-45 win on Friday night, their 35th win of the season.
GCMS grabbed the early lead and led by as many as three in the early going. A three pointer from Tanner Bergmann gave the Hornets a 7-5 lead. Nashville would maintain their two point advantage to lead 11-9 after the first quarter.
The Falcons took an early 13-11 advantage in the second, but it would be their final lead of the game. The Hornets responded with a 9-0 run to grab control of the contest, which was capped off on a bucket by Carson Parker. GCMS would close before the end of the half, but still trailed 21-16 at the break.
The Hornets could not put GCMS away as the Falcons kept clawing back, just when you thought Nashville would put the game away. GCMS got as close as 23-21 in the third, but a 6-2 run gave Nashville a 29-23 advantage after three.
Free throws were the story in the fourth quarter as the teams combined for 27 free throws in the frame. Nashville shot the majority of the shots from the charity stripe, but could not convert the opportunities. Nashville went 11-20 from the free throw line in the final frame.
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“We probably could have made it a lot easier for us if we made some free throws, said Nashville coach Coach Wayne Harre. "To be honest with you, all year long we shot them pretty well. It surprised me that we missed them. We really have been a good free throw shooting team. We had the right people at the line. You know what, those things happen."
The Hornets made enough of the free throws down the stretch to withstand a furious rally from the Falcons, who came into the game at 32-2, winning their last 30 games.
Carson Parker led Nashville with 17 points. Bryce Bultman was also in double figures with 13 points. Tanner Bergmann finished with seven points, followed by Kelton Harre with six points. Terry Pelczynski rounded out the scoring with four points.
Ryland Holt led GCMS with 18 points. Ben Freehill finished with 10 points. Connor Birky finished with eight points. Bryce Barnes finished with four points. Nathan Garard finished with three points. Lane Short finished with two points.