Rangers/Redbirds renew their rivalry tonight at Rich Herrin Gym

By Steve Dunford 

BENTON –  The first time Benton and West Frankfort met was early on in the season, December 15th.  The Rangers barely escaped Max Morris Gym with a 49-45 win.

Since that point, the Rangers and Redbirds have been going in opposite directions.  The Rangers come into tonight’s game with a 20-3 record, 6-0 in the SIRR Ohio, as they are in the driver’s seat to win a second consecutive River-to-River title.

The Rangers won a 35-27 grinder against the Carterville Lions last Saturday night.

The Redbirds come in with a 4-16 mark and 0-5 in the conference .   Along with their last game with Benton, WF has went down to the wire twice with Anna-Jonesboro twice, Harrisburg, and fell to the fourth ranked team in the stae in Class 2A Eldorado who is 22-1 on the season. \

Benton Coach Ron Winemiller had this to say about tonight’s matchup with West Frankfort.    Benton/West Frankfort regardless of the records it is an old school rivalry game. (C.J. Johnson is one of the best players in our conference and we will have to do a good job on him.”

“Thrash and Hammers are capable of big games as well. We have to be able to put the ball in the basket some to be able to put pressure on them at the defensive end. We are looking forward to tonight.”

West Frankfort Kevin Toney had this to say about heading to Benton tonight.  “Everyone of the five they put on the floor can handle the ball, they can shoot, and capable of stepping up and having a 20 point night as several have this year.  They are dangerous defensively.  We are going to have to play with a lot of intensity tonight to compete.”  

The only strength West Frankfort has over Benton is their inside game.  I think Bradlee Croslin will be a big X Factor in tonight’s game.  No one for the Rangers can match up to his size or strength.

Whoever guards C.J Johnson for the Rangers will be prone to get into foul trouble.  I don’t think you will see either coach open up in a zone tonight.  Look for Ron Winemiller to switch off who guards him.

Kyle Hammers and whoever guards him will be a good matchup.

I cant remember who matched up at WF, I think you will see Keagan Thrash and Hamilton Page on each other tonight.

I look for Lucas Wolfe and Gehrig Wynn to match up with each other.

I don’t look for a lot of points to be put up tonight, I look for it to be a defensive battle.  Here are the two factors that going into tonight’s game that the reason I am going with the Rangers as the favorites.

First Benton takes much better care of the basketball. The Redbirds have coughed it up too many times, especially too many unforced turnovers.

The Rangers are nearly automatic from the free throw line.  There have been nights the Redbirds have been good, but there have been some games West Frankfort has flat out struggled.

Both teams will tip it up around 7:45 p.m. tonight.


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