Rangers drop season opener to AJ in overtime

By Jim Muir

The Benton Rangers let a seven point halftime lead get away and Anna-Jonesboro rallied down the stretch to pull out a hard fought 67-65 overtime victory in opening night action at the Goreville Invitational Tournament.

The Rangers jumped out to an 18-14 first quarter lead and outscored the Wildcats 17-14 in the second stanza to go up 35-28 at the intermission.

Benton Coach Ron Winemiller said he felt the two factors in the loss was a lack of rebounding and a lack of toughness on his team.

“I think one key was that we couldn’t get a defensive rebound early in the game,” said Winemiller. “I thought they (A-J) was tougher than us, particularly early in the game. I think we got better as the game went along.”

A decisive third quarter played huge in the game as the Wildcats outscored the Rangers 22-13 to erase a seven point deficit and take a two-point lead, 50-48, heading into the final quarter. The Rangers outscored A-J 11-9 in the fourth quarter knotting the game at 59-59 at the end of regulation.

Zach Parr, who scorched the nets for 33 points and game scoring honors, scored 15 in the decisive third frame. Parr also scored seven of A-J’s eight points in overtime including the game winner that sealed the victory. McGrath added 11 for the Wildcats, the only other A-J player in double figures.

The Rangers had balanced scoring with three players in double figures, led by Parker Williams with 19, Gehrig Wynn added 16 and Hamilton Page adding 11. Sophomore Carson Lewis added 8 in his first varsity action and Joey Craig and Brett Bonenberger added two each to round out the scoring.

“You never know how a player will react when they make the jump to varsity, but I though Carson (Lewis) played well for his first game.”

Heading into the start of a new season, Winemiller said his biggest concern is a lack of depth and varsity experience.

“I think we could see a lot of games just like this one where it comes down to one possession,” he said.

The Rangers will have very little time to lick their wounds as they head back to the hardcourt on Tuesday night to take on Hardin County in a 5:30 p.m. matchup. All five teams will take Wednesday and Thursday night off before the tournament resumes on Friday with three games and then six games on Saturday.

The Rangers play Hamilton County at 7 p.m. on Friday, Johnston City at 10 a.m. Saturday and then close out the tournament against the host Goreville Blackcats at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.








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