A late 6-0 run carried Nashville to a 41-34 win at Pinckneyville on Friday night as the Hornets moved to 3-0 in the SIRR Mississippi Division. The Panthers would fall again on Saturday to Waterloo, dropping their third straight game both at home and overall. It was PCHS's sixth loss in their last eight games.
Senior Chance Reuter led the Hornets with 16 points, but it was 6'6 freshman Royce Newman's 11 second-half points that gave the Panthers trouble late in the game.
"We didn't get (Newman and Devin Holle) the ball nearly as much as we would have liked," said Nashville head coach Brad Weathers. "You have to credit Pinckneyville's defense, they were right up in us. Not having a true point guard, sometimes that makes it even more hard, but we eventually adjusted and got it done a few times."
While neither team lit up the scoreboard, a five-point third quarter got the Panthers into trouble. They managed only a free throw in the final 5:30 of the period and allowed the Hornets to jump ahead 27-21 heading to the fourth.
"It's just finding guys to make shots," said Pinckneyville head coach Bob Waggoner. "Give Nashville credit, in the second half I thought their pressure bothered us a little bit. They contested shots and I think we got a little bit tired. At the same time, it was probably a two-possession ball game, it could have went either way. They made a couple plays down the stretch and we didn't, and that's the game of basketball."
The Panthers hung around thanks in part to a three-pointer from Dylan Hardin with 4:02 to play in the game and a three-point play by Luke Miller with 3:14 on the clock to cut the Hornets lead to 31-29.
Reuter hit a big shot in the lane moments later and Newman and Keegan Anderson each added two points during Nashville's key run in the closing minutes.
"Anytime Nashville and Pinckneyville get together, regardless of the talent, it's going to be a hard-nosed rivalry game," Weathers said. "Both teams look forward to this. Very physical game, I thought both teams played extremely hard. Points were hard to come by. I think the thing that probably saved us down here was that we were able to defend and guard them well enough for them not to outscore us."
Chris Priebe had 11 points to lead the Panthers and was given the task of handling Nashville's size in the post. His absence during the third quarter while in foul trouble may have ultimately led to the offensive drought.
"(Priebe) did a good job," Waggoner said. "The big difference in the ball game was in the third quarter whenever he picked up his third foul and we had to sit hit him, and offensively we really struggled for a stretch. Overall I thought he did a nice job in there against guys that were a lot bigger (than him)."
Page 2 of 2 - Sophomore Tristan Fisher saw his first action in the starting lineup for PCHS and scored only 4 points despite creating several scoring opportunities driving to the basket, but Waggoner said his defense helped keep the game tight.
"The biggest part of what (Fisher) did was that he really did a great job defensively on Brown," said Waggoner. "He really guarded him really well, and offensively gave us a little drive."
Hardin had 9 points, Miller 5, Chaz Ruffino and Brandon Edwards 2, and Caleb Dahn 1.
"We came out on the wrong end," Waggoner added, "but I thought we got better (Friday night)."
With their 40 points on Saturday, the Panthers have averaged just 36.7 points per game in their six losses. They've failed to score more than 40 in five of those six contests.