LONOKE — Even though Maumelle was down 19-6 after one quarter against Nashville last Friday in the state tournament, Hornet Coach Mike Shook wasn’t concerned.
Knowing his Hornets (23-8) had been in situations before, he was confident they would make a comeback. Reducing the margin to 33-29 at the half, they were down by 12 points to start the fourth period but knotted the score four times before taking a 65-64 lead with 20.4 seconds left. However, Maumelle fell short in quarter-finals and lost 66-65.
“I wasn’t happy, but I still thought we would settle down,” Shook said. “I honestly thought we would be able to run more and get to their legs. We didn’t get the job done, and Nashville deserves a lot of credit.”
The day before Nashville defeated Stuttgart, 60-50. Shook said in the four games he had seen Nashville play, whether it was on film or in person, the Scrappers didn’t shoot as well as they did against Maumelle. Like last year, the Hornets received a bye and didn’t have to play in the first round.
“Watching them play Stuttgart, I thought we were the better team,” Shook said. “I think different levels of nervousness affected us. I asked the guys yesterday (Monday) if they were nervous. Some said they weren’t, some definitely were and some were leading up to the game but settled down once it started. The thing about Nashville is it got to work out its nerves the day before.”
Regardless of how the season ended, the Hornets had a successful year. Last year, they were league co-champs, and this year they were conference champs. They were runner-up in district last year but won it this season. Although, they won the regional tournament on their home floor last year, they wanted to prove they could do it away from home and did. Eight losses isn’t a bad mark either.
What worked for the Hornets was all the players buying into their roles. Because Maumelle was deep, the plan was to wear the other teams out. Without all players accepting their roles, that would not have been possible.
“I was disappointed with the way the season ended, but loved the chemistry of the team,” Shook said. “I enjoyed seeing how much they enjoyed playing together. That was big for me.”
Maumelle loses five seniors in Kendall Donnerson, Don Taggert, Ron McCuien, Nick Cox and Kendall Staton. All but Staton played significantly, but Shook appreciates the contribution Staton made.
“He was one of those kids who understood his role,” Shook said. “He was like a player coach and at timeouts was always telling people things and also giving me suggestions. He loves the games and always did what I asked of him.”
Donnerson was the inside presence for the Hornets and finished with 19 points against Nashville. Cox ran the point lots of times while Taggert and McCuien gave Maumelle added depth at guard/forward.
Though several players will be participating in spring sports, Shook will use the off-season to prepare the Hornets for entering 5A next year.