The Hornets basketball team hosted the Washburn Ichabods on senior night in the annual Turnpike Tussle at White Auditorium last night but lost, 60-68. Jim Fraley had his number 14 jersey retired. Tola Lawal, Troy Pierce, Antonio DiMaria and Christian Simmons are the seniors on the squad. To open the game, junior Chris Sights drained a three-point shot from the corner to jump out to an early lead. Both teams flexed their muscles as neither team could get open looks at the basket. Midway through the half, the score was 11-7, Washburn.
Simmons provided energy to the Hornets lineup as he scored four straight points to help pull within nine, 11-20. He then added two assists to fellow senior Troy Pierce for two straight baskets to narrow the lead 15-20 with four minutes left. The Ichabods followed the 8-0 Emporia run with a 6-0 run of their own. They would continue to stretch the lead, 19-33, to end the half.
“We have a never give up mentality,” Pierce said. “It has to be our mentality for the rest of the season.”
The Hornets came out fired up as senior Antonio DiMario hit a three-pointer to cap a 5-0 run. This closed the gap, 24-33. Lawal tried to pump up the team as he hit a jumper from 15 feet away to pull the game within 11 points, 33-44, with nine minutes left.
“We started getting the ball inside,” Simmons said. “When we get the ball inside, it opens up the outside shooters. We made some shots to make it close.”
The senior leadership on the team continued to push for energy and hustle. Seniors Lawal and Pierce refused to quit. They crashed the boards and continued to play aggressive defense. The Hornets would pull within six points with two minutes remaining in the game, but that would be as close as they would get to victory.
“Right now we need to work on not spotting teams leads,” said head coach Shawn Vandiver. “I have to do a better job of time management and not letting leads get out of hand.”