Duster Thomas Hoops Classic Pairings/Scoreboard

Gold Pool

Game 1:  Benton 51  Pinckneyville,  41   F 

Game 2:  Trenton Wesclin 47 vs DuQuoin  44 1:30 p.m.

Game 3:  Pinckneyville 72 DuQuoin 45  3rd place

Game 4:  Benton 18 Trenton-Wesclin 15   H

Silver Pool

Game 1:   Cissna Park 40  Olney 38  F

Game 2: Jerseyville 65  Carterville 34  F

Game 3:  Olney 42 Carterville 33 F  7th place

Game 4:  Jerseyville 35  Cissina Park 27  F

Bronze Pool

Game 1:  Greenville 44  Roxanna 29  F

Game 2:  Trico 64 Elverado  31  F

Game 3:  Roxanna 60 Elverado 55 F  11th place

Game 4:  Greenville 72 Trico 51 F 9th place


Benton opens up play in the DTHC this afternoon

The Benton Rangers open up play in the Duster Thomas Hoops Classic in Pinckneyville today, facing Cissna Park at 3:30 in the auxiliary gym, and Greenville at 8:30 in Duster Thomas Gym.

Cissna Park (Enrollment 99) is between Champaign and Kankakee.  They have a record of 5-3  They have a “will play anyone” attitude.  They just came out  the St. Joseph Odgen invitational, 4-1, which is made up of 2A and 3A schools.

Benton Coach Ron Winemiller had this to say about Cissna Park. “There are two different styles of teams we play tomorrow. Cissna part is very big and relies on pounding the ball into their 6’7 Sophomores.We will have our hands full keeping them away from the basket and also not getting crushed on the offensive back board.” 

Greenville plays in the South Central Conference.  They have a record of 5-5.  They faced a couple of teams from this area in the Carlyle Kaskaskian Classic.  They were defeated by Pinckneyville 64-43, and Woodlawn 43-40.  Coach Winemiller had a few comments about Greenville coming into tonight’s game,”Greenville is a little more like us. They don’t have great team size but they are very aggressive at the defensive and offensive end. They will try to create offense with their defense.”

“Coach Cantrell and Coach Long are 2 guys I have known for a long time and we look forward to competing against them in Pinckenyville.”

The pairings for the championship round will not be available until all the pool play games are completed.  I will share them as soon as possible.

Rangerettes fall to Hamilton County in non-conference matchup

By Jim Muir

A fourth quarter run by Hamilton County spelled defeat for the Benton Rangerettes in non-conference action on Monday night. The loss dropped the Rangerettes to 2-4 on the season.

Benton trailed only 35-33 heading into the final frame but was outscored by the Lady Foxes 18-7. Benton Coach Andy Sloan said a four-minute surge by Hamilton County in the decisive fourth quarter was the difference-maker.

“We executed our game plan for 28 minutes but unfortunately a high school basketball game is 32 minutes long,” said Sloan. “We trailed by two points with four minutes to play and lost by 13.”

Sloan said turnovers by his young team were costly.

“We just had too many mental errors and mistakes down the stretch that really cost us,” said Sloan. “But, we got beat by a good basketball team tonight.”

The Rangerettes were led in scoring by sophomore Madyson Wallace who scored 23 of the 40 points her team tallied. Ember Milby added seven points, Kelsey Wilcox added four and Eb Casey, Addisyn Miller and Zoe Carlton all scored two points each.

“Hopefully this will help us move forward,” Sloan said. “We want to be like Hamilton County, they are a good team. But, we’re not there yet.”

The Rangerettes are back in action on Saturday afternoon to take on the always-tough Nashville Hornettes. The Junior Varsity game will begin at 1 p.m. with the varsity matchup to follow.





High School Basketball around the region tonight

Benton (0-1) vs Hardin County (0-1)  

The Rangers fell in a 67-65 overtime loss to the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats last night to open their season at the Goreville Invitational Tournament.

Here is a link to the story from last night’s game from Jim Muir.

Rangers drop season opener to AJ in overtime

Hardin County out of the Greater Egyptian Conference is featured by 6′ 6″ three year starter Jamison Hicks in the middle, 6′ 1″ G-F Hunter Cullom, 5′ 10″ PG Jaron Austin, and 6′ 2″ forward Gabe Fowler.  There could be a cast of four that will fill the fifth slot in the starting lineup for the Cougars tonight.

Hardin County Coach Rodney Lane stated that, “This is not the most athletic bunch that I’ve had but this is my favorite bunch.”

The Cougars, by far, play the toughest schedule in the GEC.  Along with this week at Goreville, they play in the Eldorado Holiday Tournament, have a home and home with Crittenden County KY, and also face Kentucky schools Union County and Webster County.  Webster Co., two years back, decimated the field at Eldorado.

I have the Cougars finishing third in the GEC, and Jack Bullock has the Cougars slated to finish fourth.

Here is the link to the box score from last night’s  35-25 loss by the Cougars to the Hamilton County Foxes from Jack Bullock of A Baseline view.


Thompsonville (1-2) at Pope County (3-2)  

After the Tigers pulled off a barn burner win against New Athens, their fortunes were not very good last week at Christopher as they were blown out by Webber Township and Wayne City.

The Pirates had a good week at Crab Orchard with a nice 18 point win over Elverado, and took the hosts down to the wire for a two point loss.

Both teams open Greater Egyptian Conference play tonight in Golconda.

Coach Bill Simmons will be going with 6′ 6″ Josh Floyd in the middle.  Floyd has been a three year starter since he transferred from Massac County.  In the paint with Floyd will be 6′ 3″ Cole Blankenship, and 6′ 1″ Nick Walker.

In the back-court will be three interchangeable guards that can pop the three in 5′ 11″ Sebastian Fasolo, and Matthew Davis and Jackson Eddington, both at 5′ 8″

When I asked Coach Simmons how he thought the season would go a couple of weeks ago, he said,  “I hope maybe we can win a conference game.  I know it is between us and Carrier Mills but Keil (Peebles) will out coach me.”  The veteran coach who came out of retirement to teach and coach at the Golconda school, always gives you the same song and dance that Joe Hosman gives and Bob Dallas used to by saying they would be lucky to win five ball games and ends up winning 15-20.

I was able to talk to Coach Simmons at halftime of the T’ville/Webber game.  He says, “If Pete (Gordon) comes out in that 3-2, we will have a tough time passing around 11 (Reed Raubach) and 21 (Anthoney Darge).   If we get the ball inside past them, I like our chances.”

Both Jack Bullock and I had Thompsonville finishing second in the GEC, and Pope County in the middle of the pack.


Harrisburg at West Frankfort

Herrin at Benton


Steve’s BDC West…SIRR Ohio…GEC……Turkey Tourney picks

by Steve Dunford 

You will see individual team previews of the Black Diamond, Southern Illinois River-to-River and Greater Egyptian Conferences.  Also I have how the hardware will be distributed next Saturday night at Christopher.

In the GEC, I used a little of sabermetrics.  Four through seven are even in my book.  The rankings might not determine strength of the opponent. It is a tough league to win on the road, so I slotted these four spots who has the home schedule advantage.

The conference is divided into two divisions.  One division is NCOE, Thompsonville, Crab Orchard, and Galatia, the other is Carrier Mills, Hardin County, Pope County, and Gallatin County.  You have a home and home with each team in the division.  The first game that you play against the team in your division counts as a conference game, the second a non-conference game.

I will do as many previews as ones I have made contact with from both divisions of the Black Diamond and River-to-River as well as the GEC of who I have made contact with.

I have did the same with the Christopher Turkey Tournament, as the teams outside the three conferences at Goreville and DuQuoin.

I only with predictions from the BDC West, and SIRR Ohio divisions.

Black Diamond West

1,  Goreville

2.  Sesser-Valier 

 3.  Christopher 

4.  Chester

5.  Vienna

6.  Trico

7.  Zeigler-Royalton

Southern Illinois River-to-River Ohio Division

1.   Murphysboro

2.  Harrisburg

3,  Benton 

4.  Massac County

5.  West Frankfort 

6.  Herrin

Greater Egyptian

1,  Gallatin County

2.  Thompsonville 

3.  Hardin County

4.  Pope County

5,  Crab Orchard

6.  Galatia

7.  Norris City Omaha-Enfield

8.  Carrier Mills

Christopher Turkey Tourney

Champion:  Webber Township

Runner up:  Christopher 

Third Place:  Thompsonville 

Fourth Place:  NCOE

Consolation Champion:  New Athens

Sixth Place:  Wayne City

Seventh Place:  Zeigler-Royalton 

Eighth Place:  Waltonville

I encourage you to get on social media, agree, disagree, or throw me under the bus even.


Benton’s Zoe Carlton part of the SIRR-Ohio All Conference Team in volleyball


Drew Stokes Murphysboro

Mallorie Harris Murphysboro

Lillie Schaldemose Murphysboro

Rachel Finders Murphysboro

Bryleigh Buchanan Harrisburg

Matty Hawkins Harrisburg

Devin Butler Harrisburg

Aubrey Biggers Massac County

Brooke Stepter Massac County

Ellie Weber Massac County

Marissa Russell Herrin

Zoe Carlton Benton


Emma Banach Pinckneyville

Kylee Kling Pinckneyville

Paige Kasten Nashville

Mackenzie McFeron Nashville

Ashlyn Mavigliano Carterville

Olivia Szczepanski Pinckneyville

Clair Boget Anna-Jonesboro

Grace Haney DuQuoin

Elaine Shaneyfelt Pinckneyville

Jasmin Foster Anna-Jonesboro

Brayden Fitzgerald-Deener Anna-Jonesboro

Faith Argus Sparta


Rangers did not make the field of 256

by Steve Dunford

The field has been set by the IHSA around an hour ago.   The cutoff was at 39 playoff points to receive a postseason bid at 5-4.  The Rangers were at 36.

Even if the West Frankfort Redbirds or the Harrisburg Bulldogs were not upset last night, it would have taken an upset win by Murphysboro, Pinckneyville. or Sparta for the Rangers to have 39 points.

Parings will be announced shortly after 8:00 p.m.


West Frankfort will not make the playoffs, Benton has a very slim chance of getting in

by Steve Dunford 

I was holding the antenna out the window to pick up WFRX in the last few minutes of the game tonight.  I was heartbroken.  I might get ran out of West Frankfort for saying this, I am,  heartbroken for whom the late Bruce A. Fasol used to refer to as, the team six miles to the north.”

The Redbirds picked up playoff points from Nashville, A-J, and Herrin, which has them at 33.  It was known they had to pick up a win to get in.

The Rangers are sitting at 36 points.  They picked up three points as well from Carterville, Herrin, and AJ.  They needed a lot of help.  I was looking good in the “early returns.”   Murphy was hanging around with DuQuoin.  Harrisburg was beating Carbondale, and the Redbirds lost a heart-breaker.

Of all places, it was looking possible that both Benton and WF might get a point from Pinckneyville.  The Panthers were tied with Carlyle at halftime.

One win between Pinckneyville and Sparta really hurt both the Redbirds and the Rangers getting at large bids at 5-4.

I will be writing two stories in the morning.  I will be writing a season in review for the Redbirds, as well as the C-Z-R Bearcats.

I will also be writing an extensive breakdown for what could take place around 8:00 p.m. when the playoff parings are announced.  I will mainly focus on Class 3A.  There is one team that is for sure alive, the S-V-W-W Red Devils, who suffered their first loss tonight to the Fairfield Mules.

For what was supposed to be a rebuilding year in West Frankfort, the Redbirds were 15 seconds away from making the playoffs.  Even though the results were not what we wanted tonight, it is a great day to be a Redbird.





WEEK 9 PREVIEW: Benton (5-3) at Anna Jonesboro (8-0)

by Steve Dunford 

The Benton Rangers are playing to keep their season alive tonight as they face off against the undefeated Anna Jonesboro Wildcats.  Here are the common opponents between the two:


Benton lost 28-15 Week 1

A-J won 41-7 Week 5


Benton won 29-13 Week 2

A-J won 46-14 Week 8


Benton won 41-0 Week 3

A-J won 34-0 Week 6


Benton won 47-14 Week 5

A-J won 43-18 Week 1


Benton won 53-13  Week

A-J won 40-7 Week 3


Benton lost 19-14  Week 8

A-J won 43-14  Week

With last Friday night’s upset loss at Murphysboro, the Rangers has put themselves in a must win position.  This is what Benton Coach Bob Pankey has to say coming into tonight’s game.  “Obviously we’ve put ourselves in a much tougher situation now with the loss to Murphy. In that game, we could never really get our offense clicking and it hurt us. Now we have a tough match up with A-J this week. But as was proven last Friday night, upsets can and do happen.”

“A-J has one of the better running games in Southern Illinois with a great RB in Jayce Turner and a great wing/slot in Arieh Hart. Both have the potential to make big plays. Our goal will be to try to contain the run game well enough to get our offense on the field. And then we have to be able to establish momentum with our offense”

Benton WR Cade Thomas

This is what Anna Jonesboro coach Brett Dietering had to say about tonight’s matchup with the Rangers.  “I expect the same thing as in the past three years, a heavy dose of Hamilton Page.  It all comes down to the ability to attack the run and pass game. If Page is not hooking up with Cade Thomas, you then have to worry about stopping Blaine Pankey running the ball.”

I’ve had the opportunity to watch both teams a few times on film, and once live.  I think that Page is the best QB in Southern Illinois.  I think Turner is the best RB.  Turner and Pankey would probably go in as the number three and four linebackers in Southern Illinois.  I think they are about even, with Luke Ford being Number 1, and Jordan Bartok #2.

Yes the Rangers are coming in the underdogs.  I might get ran out of Franklin County but I have to go with A-J in this one, especially at home.  If the Rangers get defeated, they can still get in with a lot of help from their “friends.”

It is also a game that I would not be surprised if the Rangers would win, especially if Hamilton Page has a big passing night.

This is the second best game of the night in all of Southern Illinois.  Leave early, stop at Giant City Lodge for supper, grab some apples and enjoy a great night of high school football.





Playoff probabilities for S-V-W-W, West Frankfort, and Benton

by Steve Dunford 

First of all we need to continue prayers for Zeigler-Royalton head basketball coach Matt Morgan, who suffered a heart attack this evening.  He is resting comfortably in an area hospital.  Lets pray for a speedy recovery and that he will be back on the sidelines at the Christopher Turkey Tournament.

In something that I have been looking at being a possibility since week three,  The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn Red Devils and the Fairfield Mules will be facing off against each other at the Train Yard, undefeated, with a conference title on the line.

For 3A, I was looking at the possibility of quadrants.  I found out today they were a thing of the past.  So the south will be seeded 1-16.

Going into tomorrow night’s game there are four undefeated teams in 3A from Springfield, south.  Along with the Devils and The Mules, the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats and Carlinville.

If Carlinville beats Greenville (6-2) tomorrow night, there will be a tie for the Number one and Two seed for the south half of the bracket between the winner of the Train Yard Showdown.

The Number one seed will then have the possibility of drawing Vienna-Goreville, Mt. Carmel or Harrisburg, all with 4-4 records.  If the Eagles beat Carmi-White County on Saturday, they will be in the best playoff point shape with 40.  Harrisburg is sitting at 36, as they face Carbondale.  Mt. Carmel has 33 and they face win less Mt. Vernon tomorrow night.

There is a chance that Harrisburg and V-G could be bumped up to 4A, as the cutoff line has been dropped  to 548 which is the Eagles enrollment.  Harrisburg is six below the cutoff at 542.

For West Frankfort it is as simple as this, they have to beat Nashville to get in. They are sitting at 30 playoff points, which if they beat the Hornets tomorrow night, would be the lowest 6-3 seeded team in the south.   If all the 4-4 teams do not get in and the Devils win tomorrow night, there is a very good possibility you could see the Redbirds and the Devils match up at Carroll Kelly field a week from Saturday.

I have had a gut feeling for a couple weeks that however things turn out, the Redbirds would end up facing the winner of the Train Yard battle.

If S-V-W-W would lose and the teams on the bubble at 4-4 would get in, West Frankfort still could be a possibility.  There is also an outside chance they could end up with the DuQuoin Indians.  They have been bumped up to 3A, and that could be whether they win or lose to Murphysboro.

I went local with this.  There are numerous possibilities from the Metro East.  We can start breaking them down more around 9:00 p.m.

Now onto the Rangers.  They have a task of facing an undefeated team in A-J on the road.  They are in similar but better shape than their arch enemy’s the West Frankfort Redbirds.  Win or lose the Rangers will be Redbird fans tomorrow night, for one thing, playoff points.  They will get one if WF leaves Washington County with a win.

They will be rooting for the Harrisburg Bulldogs to beat Carbondale.  They will be rooting for Murphysboro to beat DuQuoin.  Carterville vs. Massac they will get a playoff point either way.  They will also be rooting for Pinckneyville and Sparta to pull major upsets.

If they go down to A-J and lose they will be at a lot of teams mercy.  The Rangers will be in a unfamiliar role, being underdogs. However, it is a very winnable game for Benton.  It would be well worth taking the drive to Union County tomorrow night, enjoy the scenery on the way down, and watch what I would believe to be a whale of a football game.






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