ANNA — Nashville closed out the regular season series against Anna-Jonesboro with a 43-30 win on Monday night.
The Hornettes defeated the Lady Wildcats on Dec. 3, 50-37, and now have a leg up in the SIRR-Mississippi division with a 17-3 record and 5-1 record in the conference.
“I thought there was a lot more energy this time around between both teams,” said Nashville coach Doug Althoff. “It’s getting late in the conference and everybody wants to win. It was a physical game and I thought the referees did a good job of letting the girls play.”
The Hornettes were led in scoring by senior Rylee Luechefeld with 12 points, six rebounds and five blocks. Luechefeld played as physical around the rim as the referees would allow her to and it paid off in what Althoff labeled as her best game of the season.
“Our plan offensively was to try and get the ball inside and do some damage,” said Althoff. “Rylee played great for us tonight and she really got off to a fast start.”
Nashville got off to a quick 11-6 start behind Luechtefeld. Luechtefeld carried the load for the Hornettes in the first quarter by racking up six points and three blocks.
Nashville was feeding the post early and Anna-Jonesboro went 3-for-3 from deep in the opening quarter behind senior’s Mikayla Bundren and Raegan Cruse. Sydnie Ralls came off the Lady Wildcats bench and scored on a layup to tie the game at 11 before Cruse sank two free throws before the end of the quarter.
While Anna-Jonesboro was trying to find answers for Luechtefeld in the quarter, the Lady Wildcats were able to make some shots from deep and finish the quarter on a 7-0 run to lead 13-11 heading into the second quarter.
After the Lady Wildcats closed out the opening quarter on a 7-0 run, the Hornettes started off the second quarter with a 7-0 run of their own. A steal from Sabrina Kollbaum got the run started by finishing at the other end with a layup.
You have free articles remaining.
Kollbaum would later find Alyssa Cole under the basket for a contested layup to extend Nashville’s lead to 18-13.
Anna-Jonesboro’s only two points of the second quarter came when Ralls pulled up for a 3-point shot from the corner but got fouled on the play after Kollbaum contested the shot a little too aggressively.
Ralls would make two of the three free throws and Nashville carried a five point lead going into halftime after outscoring Anna-Jonesboro 9-2 in the second quarter.
“Last time we played them we were down two points at halftime and it was just back-and-forth that whole game, but it was nice building that little cushion early even if it was just a five point lead,” said Althoff.
Nashville’s largest lead of the game was 40-24 with around four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Hornettes outscored the Lady Wildcats 16-9 in the third quarter after Jordan Donato drilled a three-pointer with 35 seconds remaining.
The deficit would end up being too much for Anna-Jonesboro, as the Lady Wildcats fall to 3-2 at home this season. The loss also snaps their season-best winning-streak of six games.
Nashville extends its winning-streak to five wins in a row and now owns a 4-1 road record. The Hornettes second leading scorer was Cole with eight points and three rebounds.
Anna-Jonesboro (13-9, 2-4) was led in scoring by Cruse with 10 points. Bundren finished right behind her with eight points and Ralls tacked on seven points off the bench for the Lady Wildcats.
Anna-Jonesboro will have another home game against Herrin (8-10, 3-2) at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday.
Nashville will host Carlyle (0-17) at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday.
"Carlyle is struggling right now but both teams put five players on the floor and you never know what could happen," said Althoff. "We never take a team lightly and they practice as much as we do."