HERRIN — Herrin blew a 12-point lead in the third quarter, but senior captain Morgan McKinnies hit a big 3-pointer to regain the lead and finished by making 4-of-5 free throws in the last minute and a half to seal a 34-30 win over Nashville in a cross-conference River-to-River girls basketball game Thursday.
“We’re on a roll,” McKinnies said. “Got to have momentum with the crowd to win and tonight we did. I think we were a little worried when they took the lead, but I’m senior leader and its up to me to keep them calm because being calm and not nervous is the only way to be if you want to win.”
Herrin won its second in a row to improve to 4-3 while Nashville dropped to 8-3.
“This is a super win for us and a good win for our program,” said Herrin coach Chris Roberts. “Nashville is a good team, so you have to play well. Defense and rebounding showed up tonight and we hit free throws down the stretch. Morgan’s a senior and the leader of this group. She wants to go out on a good note and tonight her senior leadership stepped up. That was huge.”
Layla Wade led the Lady Tigers with 13 points, with McKinnies adding seven points – all in the final 2:33 of the game.
Nashville had a terrible night shooting, making only 11-of-41 shots from the field, including 4-of-22 from beyond the arc. The Hornettes weren’t much better at the free throw line, making only 4-of-12. Herrin made 11-of-34 shots from the field, including 3-of-12 from beyond the arc and was 9-of-13 from the line.
“You have to be able to shoot the ball and it just wouldn’t go in for us tonight,” said Nashville coach Doug Althoff. “We’ve been struggling a little from the perimeter. We’ve been working on it, so it’s not from the lack of trying. We’ll get it figured out.”
After Nashville had taken the lead with 2:58 remaining, McKinnies went to work. After being held scoreless for the first 29:27 of the game and after returning to the court after hitting knees with a Nashville player earlier, the point guard sank her first and only basket — a 3-pointer from the left corner — to regain the lead for the Lady Tigers.
Fifty seconds later, McKinnies was fouled and calmly made both free throws to extend the lead to three. With 28 seconds remaining, Libby Ahlers drew a foul and missed her first foul shot, but made her second to cut the lead back to two.
McKinnies was fouled again five seconds later, and made both to extend the lead to four with 24 seconds left. After Nashville missed a short shot, McKinnies was fouled after grabbing the rebound with 10 seconds remaining, but she missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the Lady Tigers were smart not to foul on a desperation 3-pointer that fell short.
“I looked up and saw the score and for some reason got nervous on the last one,” McKinnies said.