When Tanner answered a Hatton three pointer with a buzzer beating three of their own just before halftime, no one knew how indicative that would be of things to come.
Instead of Tanner having a 27-26 lead and Hatton taking the momentum into the break, the Rattlers made it 30-26 and squashed all the momentum the Hornets had gained.
“Yeah when we cut it to one with like five seconds left and then they go down and make that shot I was thinking ‘are you kidding me?’” said Hatton head coach Tanner Tesney. “That was a killer.”
Unfortunately things would only get worse for the Hornets.
Tanner came out in the second half on fire, immediately picking up where they left off by nailing back to back shots from beyond the arch.
Meanwhile, the Hornets were so cold shooting that it made a football Sunday in Green Bay seem like a nice day.
By the time Hatton finally scored a basket in the third quarter, the Rattlers had pushed their lead to 20.
“We came out, they were up four, and a kid hit back to back threes in a row. He might not always make those shots but credit to him for doing it tonight,” Tesney said. “Then once he hit those shots it was like we were done for. They had the big guy in the middle so we started shooting shots outside that weren’t falling.”
“We’ve got to realize that when they’re not falling we have to hold it and work for something good,” he continued. “We didn’t do that tonight.”
It’s been a great season for the Hatton Hornets, who are looking to score their first winning season since 2009, and that led to some big stakes in this game. With their win over Sheffield the previous Tuesday, a win over Tanner would have moved them into first place in the area. Combine that with the game being at Tanner, always a tough place to play, and the Hornets’ inexperience in high stakes games might have played a role.
“I definitely think we panicked a little bit,” said Tesney. “We thought we had to keep up or we weren’t going to win and we put ourselves into some bad situations.”
The loss didn’t eliminate Hatton from possibly hosting the area tournament. However, the Hornets will need to defeat Tharptown and have Tanner to lose again to Sheffield to force a three way tie between them, the Rattlers and the Bulldogs.
Hatton will play R.A. Hubbard in the first round of the Lawrence County tournament this Friday at Lawrence County High School.