Rangers escape West Frankfort with a win by the skin of their teeth

By Steve Dunford 

WEST FRANKFORT – Looking at the records, you would think the Benton Rangers would be heavily favorites in tonight’s game with the West Frakfort Redbirds.

It is Benton and West Frankfort though.  I have always said that if two stray tom cats. one from Benton and one from WF would get in a fight in 18 Bottoms, it would draw a crowd.

The only blemish on the Rangers record is an overtime loss to Anna-Jonesboro in the season opener at the Goreville Invitational.  The Redbirds came into the game with a goose egg in the win column.

The Rangers made the six-mile trip home tonight pulling out a 49-45 win over their arch rivals in a nip and tuck contest.

Keagan Thrash at the FT line for the Redbirds. He had a game high 16 points last night.

The Redbirds jump out to an early 6-0  lead. In the first play of the game, the Redbirds pound it in to Bradlee Croslin, C.J. Johnaon hits the back in of two free throws, and Keagan Thrash steps out from behind the arc to hit a 22 footer on the wing.

Benton goes on a tear from behind the arc.  Hamilton Page started it, then Cade Thomas, then Parker Williams and finally Carson Lewis to put Benton up 12-8.

The Redbirds began chipping away.  At the :24 second mark of the quarter Brett Bonenberger scored the first points in the paint to put the Rangers up at the end of the first quarter 14-11.  Bonenberger gave Coah Ron Winemiller some big minutes in the post.

In the second frame the threes keep coming Gerhig Wynn got in on the fun then Willams agian, sandwiched in between another bucket on the post by Boenberger.  At that Point the Rangers were up 23-13 and looked like they were in command.

The teams began to trade buckets and Coach Winemiller calls a time out just under the two minute mark.  He and assistant coach Wade Thomas go back into their Foxes days and burn clock the rest of the first half.  The teams go to the locker rooms with Benton up  28-23.

Benton kept a five to seven point lead thorugh most of the third quarter, then West Frankfort came with a late rally to cut it to one, and Cade Thomas hit a buzzer beater to put West Frankfort 35-33 at the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter both teams traded jabs.  Brett Boneberger steps out and hits a three to make it 38-35.   The Redbirds end up going up to take their first and only lead of the night on a steal from Kyle Hammers which he goes coast to coast.

Stepping up big in the fouth quarter for the Redbirds is Bradlee Croslin.  He had six of his 12 points in the final stanza.  I don’t have the rebound stats yet, but I would not be surpised if he had a double double.   Defensively, he pushed Parker Williams to get most of his ponts behind the arc.

By far it was the best game I have watched Croslin play.  “He played a tremendous game.  He is not satisfied where he is at.  He gives me maximum effort every time out.”  Redbird coach Kevin Toney said after last night’s game.

In the maroon, Gehrig Wynn was ice at the free throw line down the stretch was going 6/6, and making it a two posession game twice   “He was who we wanted there. Our four seniors (Page, Williams, Thomas as well) that have have been seeing varsity minutes since sophmores were big tonight.” Coach Winemiller siad.

“When you come in here (WF) it is always a fight.  I came down here and watched them play Eldorado, and knew we were going to have our hands full. We held Johnson to five points tonight with him averaging 18 or 19.  This is a very good 0-6 basketball team.  Coroslin and Thrash are a handful down low.”  We were up ten a couple times and they kept fighting back.” Coach Winemiller said in his post game comments.

The Rangers travel to Nashville tonight to face the 4-2 Hornets at the Assembly Hall.  Long time sucessful girls coach Wayne Harre is now at the helm of the boys’ program after Brad Weathers retired.

Nashville has been on a roll in their last three games.  They beat A-J 61-36, Waterloo Gibault 37-21 and beat Sparta 52-16 (not a misprint) last night.

The Rangers have been road warriors this week.   “We will be heading up there with our third road game this week, and all three are tough places to play.  Bultman and the Parker Brothers are loads.  I am a little concerned about our legs.” Coach Ron Winemiller said.

The kids were receptive in practice all week.  “Their effort has been there.  I could not ask for anymore.  It is a matter of correction of  basketball skills.  When we get that first one (win) it will be huge for us.”  Coach Kevin Toney said after last night’s win.

Todd Tripp’s Goreville Blackcats (4-2) are coming to Max Morris gym this evening.  Their backcourt of Peyton Massey and Braden Webb has been banged up all year.  “I don’t know whether Webb is healthy, but he makes them go.  If he is,  the dribble drive pennetration could cause us problems.”

The “sixth man: showed up big for the Redbirds tonight

It has been nearly two weeks since Goreville has played.  The gap in their schedule was great timing so they can lick their wounds.

The Redbirds had their sixth man last night.  There was a near full boisterous student section last night. They all were in their pajamas.  I said they all looked like they were going Black Friday Shopping at Walmart.  I heard several variations of the theme.

Box Score

BENTON (49)  Williams 3 2 1-2 13, Page 2 1 4-6 11, Wynn 0 1 6-6 9, Bonnenberger 2 1 0-1 7, Thomas 1 1 0-1 5,  Lewis 0 1 0-0 3, Morris 0 0 1-2 1

WEST FRANKFORT (45)  Thrash 3 3 1-2 16, Croslin 6 0 0-1 12, Hammers 4 0 1-1 9, Johnson 2 0 1-2 5, Wolfe 1 0 1-2 3, B. Russell 0 0 0-0 0, J Russell 0 0 0-0 0, Melvin 0 0 0-0 0

Score by Quarters

BENTON (7-1)(2-0)  14 – 14 – 7 – 14  –  49

WEST FRANKFORT (0-6)(0-2)  11 – 12 – 9 – 13 – 45

 

 

 

 

 

 

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