By PAUL HINES
The third quarter was Mt. Vernon’s undoing in a 52-30 loss to the host Hornettes on Saturday night.
The game was the championship of the Nashville Tournament.
The Lady Rams played a solid first half and trailed by seven going into the locker room. In past seasons, Nashville has dealt Mt. Vernon several lopsided losses. This year the Lady Rams took a lead into the second quarter.
“I think we made a game out of it for two quarters, and that’s more than anybody else has been able to do,” Mt. Vernon coach Jeff Lonnon said. “My hat’s off to (Nashville). They’re going to be there in the end. They’re going to be a state final contender.”
Mt. Vernon tried to push the tempo wanting to avoid a halfcourt game going against Nashville’s stingy defense. Early in the game, the Lady Rams were able to execute the strategy. Kelby Kujawa tied the game at five late in the first quarter with a transition 3-pointer. Haley Lockhart put her team up 7-5 with a basket. Lockhart ended the quarter with a driving basket with a second on the clock, giving Mt. Vernon a 9-8 edge.
“We slowed it down and walked it up last year and scored two points in the first half. Obviously that wasn’t going to work,” Lonnon said. “The emphasis was to go as fast as we possibly could.”
Points became more difficult as the game moved into the second period. Nashville took a 12-11 lead on a Shawn Rennegarbe shot. The Hornettes took a 21-14 lead into halftime.
Nashville completely dominated the third quarter and blew the game open. Mt. Vernon opened the half with a pair of turnovers that the Hornettes turned into two 3-pointers.
“We knew the first couple possession of that third quarter were going to be important,” Lonnon said.
The Hornettes scored the opening 19 points to take a 43-14 edge. Mt. Vernon’s first point of the quarter came with 1:45 left on a Lockhart free throw.
Claire Ryan led the Lady Rams in the game with 11 points. Lockhart finished with five points and six rebounds.
Lockhart was named to the first team all-tournament squad. Aaliyah Palmer was named to the second team.
Mt. Vernon is 3-1 this season and travels to Cahokia tonight.
“Our three wins were good wins,” Lonnon said. “We scored a lot of points. Our defense was good, I thought, for the entire tournament.”