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Hornets come out on top in season opener

by Tyler Lennon

The Miller Grove Hornets opened their season at home Tuesday, when they hosted the Saltillo Lions. The matchup consisted of two playoff teams from a year ago, both of which will be looking to match that same success this season.

The Hornets got off to a bit of a slow start in the first quarter, as they weren’t fully able to find their offense. The Lions scored double-digit points in the frame, but Miller Grove was able to keep things close, trailing just 12-8 entering the second quarter.

The roles reversed a bit in the second quarter, as Miller Grove scored 13 points in the frame. They held Saltillo to just seven points in the quarter and took a 21-19 lead at the end of the first half.

The third quarter was the lowest scoring quarter of the night for either team, as both teams were playing lockdown defense. A total of just 10 points were scored between the two teams in the frame and Miller Grove entered the final quarter leading 27-23.

With time starting to run out in a very close game, both teams played their best ball in the fourth quarter. Saltillo hit a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers to tie things up at 38-38 with just 1:35 left to go.

It was Tanner Hensley who was able to get the Hornets their lead back. Hensley forced a steal and turned it into a layup on the other side, giving his team a two-point lead with 1:05 left to play. 

Looking to hold on to their lead, Miller Grove needed a stop on the other end, and Landon Burnett was able to provide that. Burnett took a charge as Saltillo tried to drive the lane, giving the Hornets the ball back.

With time winding down Saltillo decided to foul Burnett on the next possession. Burnett made one of his two free throws, giving Miller Grove a three-point lead with 30 seconds left on the clock.

Saltillo did their best to get a good look and was able to do so, although they were unable to get the shot to fall. After the missed shot the ball touched a Miller Grove player and went out of bounds, giving the Lions the ball back with 18.1 seconds left.

Saltillo once again was able to get off a 3-pointer but missed. This time they got their own offensive rebound and called a timeout, giving themselves one final chance to tie the game up. They got the shot they were looking for but were unable to get it to fall.

Miller Grove’s Hensley came down with the rebound and was immediately fouled. Hensley made both of his free throws, and the Hornets walked away with the 43-38 win.

Burnett led the way for Miller Grove, putting up an impressive 21-point outing. He also had seven rebounds, as well as three assists and one steal.

Also finishing in double-digits for the Hornets was Hensley, who came up big in the final frame. Hensley finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists.

Other notables for the Hornets were Bradley Nordin and Jacob George. Nordin had five points in the four-point win, while George had four points and a game-high five assists. 

Lexton Sly, Ethan George and Ryker Haivala each had two points. Haivala also had three assists, while George had two assists and two steals.

The win improves the Hornets record to 1-0 to open the year. Miller Grove will be back at home Monday to face Tom Bean. The game is set for 1 p.m.

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