CARBONDALE — Defense has become an art form in Nashville and the Hornets turned in another masterpiece Tuesday, defeating Teutopolis 41-28 in the Class 2A Super-Sectional at Southern Illinois University.
"Coach always says it starts on the defensive end – keep your man in front of you, help your teammates and recover if they kick it out to your man," said Nashville senior Bryce Bultman. "It’s a team effort and everybody did a great job. We know if we get people stopped on the defensive end we can win some games.
It’s really fun. We take pride in defense. It’s just a great feeling when you get stops and then go down and score on offense."
The Hornets have gone 19 games in a row allowing less than 40 points.
This will be Nashville’s first trip to the state tournament since the 2013-14 team finished second with a 27-8 mark. The Hornets will play Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley on Friday.
Teutopolis cut the Nashville lead to 23-16 with three minutes left in the third quarter, but the Hornets finished the quarter on a 6-2 spurt. The Hornets opened their first double-digit lead in the game when Carson Parker scored on drive with 4:47 remaining.
The Wooden Shoes appeared to be willing to make a late run at the Hornets. However, when Bryce Bultman missed a free throw with 1:58 remaining, Tanner Bergmann slipped inside, grabbed the rebound and scored.
"We put him in for defense," said Nashville coach Wayne Harre. "He went in there. The ball came to him and he stayed with it. A lot of kids will run back on defense. That was probably the one that broke their back."
The first 10 minutes of the game were basically an exercise in trench warfare.
"It was two big country boy teams out there just battling, battling and battling," Harre said. "There was no room out there. Both teams played tremendous defense. They played tremendous defense and I thought we played pretty good."
The Hornets and Wooden Shoes slugged it out toe-to-toe with Carson Parker’s short jumper tying the game 9-9 with 6:36 left in the half. Then, the Nashville defense turned up the pressure a notch. The Hornets kept the Wooden Shoes off the scoreboard for just over four minutes.
In the meantime, Nashville “exploded” for eight points over a 90-second time frame.
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Terry Pelczynski came off the bench to bury a trey from the top of the key for a 12-9 Nashville lead. After another defensive stop, Bultman scored from close range. After the Hornets forced the Shoes’ eighth turnover, reserve forward Matt Anderson buried a baseline 3-pointer to open a 17-9 lead.
Clint Weber finally solved the Nashville defense with a short jumper, but Bultman’s back door cut after a feed from Parker gave the Hornets a 19-11 halftime advantage.
Bultman led Nashville with 12 points and Parker had 10.
"That’s huge," Harre said. "That makes you look good as a coach. You can’t coach that. Sometimes you just have to let them go, let them try to get the feel of the game. They’ve played enough basketball and they’ll get the other people involved. They’re like coaches on the floor and that’s good for us."
Clint Weber led Teutopolis with 12 points.
The Hornets are 34-2. Teutopolis finished the season at 29-6.
Nashville 41, Teutopolis 28
Teutopolis (28) – Ungrund 1 0-0 2, Smith 3 1-3 8, Wermert 2 0-0 6, Weber 6 0-2 12. Hardiek 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 1-5 28.
Nashville (41) – Bultman 5 2-4 12, Parker 4 2-2 10, Bergmann 1 0-0 2, Harre 1 2-4 4, Hercules 1 2-2 5, Anderson 2 0-0 5 Pelczynski 1 0-0 3. Totals 15 8-12 41.
3-point goals – Teutopolis 3 (Wermert 2, Smith). Nashville 3 (Hercules, Anderson, Pelczynski). Team fouls – Teutopolis 12, Nashville 9. Fouled out – Smith. Records – Teutopolis finishes at 29-6. Nashville is 34-2.