Benton Jr. Rangers heading to state

By Steve Dunford

BENTON, IL-  The Benton Junior Rangers will open play against O’Fallon Carrel in the SIJHSAA Class L State Tournament in Centralia, Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m.

They advanced with a walk off victory scoring two runs in the bottom of the 7th, beating Hamilton County in the regional championship game held at McLeansboro.

Asher Wyant picked up the win in relief pitching 4 1/3 innings, allowed no earned runs, and struck out three .  Andrew Bell was the starter for Benton pitching 2 2/3 innings, allowed one earned run, and no walks.

At the plate the Rangers pounded out 11 hits on the afternoon.  They  were led by Reid Bumgarte (2-3 RBI), Chase Thomas (2-3) and Jacob Kinsman (2-4)

Picking up base hits for the Jr. Rangers were Wyant (1-4 RBI), Mason Tiefffel (1-3 RBI), Tyler Chamness (1-3), Seth Tate (1-3), and Chase Rubenacker (1-2)

Benton coach Brett Blondi  commented about the regional win and advancing to state. “That was our 3rd walk off win of the season. These kids never say quit .  I am really proud of how they have competed all year and looking forward to seeing them compete in the state tournament. Hopefully they come out and play well. ” 

The Rangers enter the state tournament with a 17-3 record.  It is ironic that all the teams that advanced to state from Franklin County won by a 4-3 margin in come from behind wins.

There will be coverage on all Franklin County teams throughout the State Tournament.



Benton and Sesser-Valier winners in Junior High baseball/softball action yesterday

The Sesser-Valier Red Devils Baseball defeats Zeigler-Royalton 20-0 in 3 innings to move to 10-2 overall and 8-2 in conference play. Pearson Launius becomes the 7th Devils pitcher to earn a victory this season joining Gavin Woodland, Dalton Williams, Eli Schoenbaechler, Tyler Hammond, Blake Menser, Wyatt Loucks.

The Benton Middle School boys and girls picked up wins against the Harrisburg Bulldogs yesterday with the boys winning 11-5, and the girls winning 13-0,

I will appreciate any scores from any of the fall sports junior high and high school, and especially when Junior High basketball gets rolling in about a month.  -Steve



The Benton Junior High Boys Baseball team, wins two games at the Salem tournament Saturday.  

SALEM, IL – The Benton Junior Rangers take home some championship hardware Saturday at the Salem Tournament.

Both games went extra innings, and were come from behind wins.    In game one, the Rangers beat the Salem Wildcats 6-5 in 8 innings. Jake Kinsman hits a two run homer for Benton.

The Rangers defeat the Flora Wolves  15-11 in 9 innings in the Championship game.


Junior High Baseball and Softball action from Monday and Tuesday

In  Junior High Girls  Softball action Christopher defeated Z-R 10-0 on Monday.  Cortney Parke goes 3-3 at the plate, Makayla Dejar 2-4, Amiah Hargrove 1-1, 3 walks and scores three runs for the Bearcats.  Lainey Morris and Shelby Grove pick up a hit each for the Tornadoes.

In Boys Baseball, Christopher defeats Z-R 14-0 on Monday.

Yesterday Amiah Hargrove and Reagan Gilbert go 3-5 from the plate, and McKenzie Jackson 2-4 as the Christopher Bearcats fall to the Elverado Falcons 9-7 in a nine inning contest yesterday in Junior High  Softball action.

The Bearcats improve to 3-3 on the year and host Sesser-Valier on Friday.

In Junior High Baseball action, Benton defeats Harrisburg 11-7.





T’ville gets first victory of the season, Benton falls in Junior High baseball action

by Steve Dunford

I only received the score from two Junior High baseball games.  Thompsonville picked up their first win of the year, by defeated Our Lady of Mt. Carmel from Herrin 16-11.  Benton went on the road and lost a close one to Marion 6-5 yesterday afternoon.  Several teams are in action today.  I should have a full scoreboard tomorrow. -Steve

Junior High/High School Sports Schedule 8/17/17

HS Boys Golf

WEST FRANKFORT at Carbondale

HS Girls Golf

Marion, Hamilton County at WEST FRANKFORT

Junior High Softball


BENTON at Marion

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Herrin) at THOMPSONVILLE

Junior High Baseball


BENTON at Marion

THOMPSONVILLE at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Herrin)

All events weather permitting



Junior High baseball/softball scores from Monday and Tuesday

by Steve Dunford



SESSER-VALIER 16  Johnston City 2

WEST FRANKFORT  16  Carbondale 3

BENTON 9 DuQuoin 0


Goreville 6  ZEIGLER-ROYALTON 5  Skylar Hudson 2-3, Bella Bates and Lainey Morris 1-3 at the plate for Z-R

WEST FRANKFORT 17  Carbondale 7




Adams (Creal Springs)  14  THOMPSONVILLE 11




Please pass along any scores to me by calling 937-0253 or 513-1274.  You can also get ahold of me by emailing me at or messaging me on Facebook.  Any information that you pass along that would be more than three sentences, I will write a short story on your team.


BMS knocks off Centralia 61-49, will meet Marion in Class L title game Thursday night

By Jim Muir

Austin Wills and Derek Oxford combined for 45 points – including 10 three-pointers – as Benton Middle School defeated Centralia 61-49 in semi-final action at the Class L State Tournament at Rend Lake College.

With the victory the Junior Rangers moved to 22-4 on the season and into the Class L state title game on Thursday night when they match up against undefeated Marion in a 7:30 p.m. contest.

After an uncharacteristic off-day shooting in a 42-40 quarterfinal win over Olney on Saturday Benton came out blazing against Centralia.  Oxford got the Junior Rangers off to a quick start with 11 first quarter points that included three three-pointers as Benton built a 20-6 first quarter lead.  One of the three-pointers that Oxford hit came from long range and brought the large Benton crowd to its feet.

“There are certain moments in life that you will just never forget,” said Cook. “I will never forget the reaction of our crowd and from Derek (Oxford) when he hit the three-pointer from about 28-feet.  When things like that take place in big moments nothing is better.  Tonight was our night.”

BMS coach John Cook (center) gives instruction to his team during a timeout in the Junior Rangers 61-49 victory in semi-final action in the Class L state tournament.  Benton will meet undefeated Marion in the championship game Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.

BMS coach John Cook (center) gives instruction to his team during a timeout in the Junior Rangers 61-49 victory in semi-final action in the Class L state tournament. Benton will meet undefeated Marion in the championship game Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.

In the second frame it was all Wills as the Benton guard nailed four three-pointers scoring 12 of his team’s 16 points to give the Junior Rangers a comfortable 36-24 lead at the halftime intermission.  After jumping out to the 14-point first quarter lead Centralia cut the lead to single digits on only one occasion in the second quarter but Benton quickly answered with a three-pointer by Wills and the Junior Rangers maintained a double-digit lead the remainder of the game.

“The first half might have been the best half of basketball we have played this season,” said Cook.  “We were taking care of the ball, getting into our offensive sets quickly and knocking down shots. The energy and enthusiasm was the biggest difference to me compared to the Olney game.”

Wills finished with 26 points hitting 7-for-11 three-point attempts while Oxford scored 19.  Tyson Houghland and Blane Pankey also had key performances for Benton in the victory.  Houghland had eight points and five rebounds and Pankey had six points and also grabbed five caroms.  Tony Tillman also scored two for Benton in a reserve role.  Also seeing action and contributing to the win for the Junior Rangers was Gehrig Wynn, Oliver Davis, Hamilton Page, Jordan Richey, Scott Mosely, Brett Bonenberger, Parker Williams and Jourdan Garbo.

“When Austin hits shots like that , and has had a few games like that this year, we are a tough team to guard,” said Cook.  “We all know what he is capable of and tonight he showed the entire town of Benton.  On top of that we received 14 points and 10 rebounds from Houghland and Pankey.  What a great team effort.”

Cook said he believes his team will bring the same attitude to the title game against undefeated Marion that they displayed in the victory over a good Centralia team.

“We played loose against Centralia like we have nothing to lose and believe we will have that same mentality in the championship game,” said Cook.  “We’re in the title game and we’re going to come out and play hard and see what happens.”

In the first semi-final game Marion trailed Herrin 26-23 heading into the fourth quarter but the Wildcats roared back in the fourth quarter outscoring the Tigers 19-5 to move to 24-0 on the season.  Herrin will face Centralia in the third place game at 6 p.m. Thursday night followed by the Marion-Benton state championship game at 7:30 p.m.

Junior Rangers head to Elite Eight with 58-46 win over Hamilton County

    The Benton Middle School 8th grade basketball team won the Hamilton County Class L Regional on Saturday with a 58-46 victory over the host Foxes. Pictured left to right, bottom row: Jourdan Garbo, Lance Cockrum, Gehrig Wynn, Oliver Davis, Tony Tillman, Parker Williams     Back row l-r: Coach John Cook, Jordan Richey, Hamilton Page, Tyson Houghland, Scott Mosely, Brett Bonenburger, Derek Oxford, Blane Pankey, Austin Wills, and Coach Andy Davis

The Benton Middle School 8th grade basketball team won the Hamilton County Class L Regional on Saturday with a 58-46 victory over the host Foxes. Pictured left to right, bottom row: Jourdan Garbo, Lance Cockrum, Gehrig Wynn, Oliver Davis, Tony Tillman, Parker Williams
Back row l-r: Coach John Cook, Jordan Richey, Hamilton Page, Tyson Houghland, Scott Mosely, Brett Bonenburger, Derek Oxford, Blane Pankey, Austin Wills, and Coach Andy Davis

By Jim Muir

The Benton Middle School 8th grade basketball team made it back-to-back regional titles with a hard-fought 58-46 victory over Hamilton County in the Hamilton County Class L Regional.

The victory improved Benton to 19-4 on the season.

With leading scorer Derek Oxford facing double and triple teams in the contest and also plagued by foul trouble the Junior Rangers rose to the occasion with a terrific team effort, according to coach John Cook.

“I was really impressed with the way our guys stood up to the challenge, “ said Cook. “I give Hamilton County a lot of credit, they are big and physical and they really held Derek (Oxford) in check the first half of the game. Austin Wills and Tyson Houghland really showed a lot of poise and leadership and really picked us up in the biggest game of the season.”

Houghland turned in his best performance of the season with 18 points and an eye-popping 15 rebounds. Wills had 16 points to to with four rebounds, three steals and three assists.

The Junior Rangers raced out to a quick 17-8 first quarter lead but the Foxes clawed back outscoring Benton 13-7 in the second quarter to pull within 24-21 at intermission. Benton hung 20 points on the scoreboard in the third quarter while holding Hamilton County to 12 and took a 44-33 lead into the final quarter of play.

Gehrig Wynn nailed a pair of 3-pointers and Oliver Davis hit a solo trey and Cook pointed to all three shots as keys to the win.

“All three of those 3-pointers came at pivotal times in the game,” said Cook. “When teams play a gimmick defense and key on your leading scorers, it’s shots like those that really define your team. I have said all year that we are not a one-dimensional team and I think we proved it in the regional championship game.”

oxford 1000

Even though Oxford was facing a variety of defenses geared to slow him down he still scored 17 – four points below his average and the first time in 11 games he was below the 20-point plus mark. The 17 points by Oxford pushed him beyond the 1,000 point mark for his BMS career – a record achievement at the junior high level.

Cook said the regional title coupled with the stellar achievement and milestone by Oxford, and both events celebrated on the road, made for an emotional Saturday morning.

“Derek being honored at McLeansboro for his 1,000th point was a great moment. Being able to celebrate a regional championship and seeing him recognized for an outstanding achievement all in the same day is something I will never forget,” said Cook. “Derek was able to do that in front of family and friends and our biggest crowd of the season.”

The fact that Oxford’s achievements were recognized on the road was also a high point for Cook.

“I want to thank Clint Winemiller (Hamilton County athletic director) for the kind words he said about Derek,” said Cook. “Hamilton County was very accomodating and their fans were very classy with the reception they gave for our team. It was just a special day.”

BMS scoring is as follows: Houghland, 18, Oxford 17, Wills 16, Wynn 6, Davis 3. Also seeing action for Benton was Blane Pankey, Hamilton Page, Jordan Richey and Scott Mosely.

BMS will now move into Elite Eight action at Rend Lake College where they will face the winner of the Carmi-White County Regional in a 12 noon game on Saturday, Feb. 9. Benton will face either Mt. Carmel or Olney who will play Monday night.






Junior Rangers move into regional finals with 53-20 win over West Frankfort

By Jim Muir

The Benton Middle School 8th grade basketball team moved into Saturday’s Hamilton County Regional championship game with a convincing 53-20 victory over cross-county rival West Frankfort.

rangers logo xDerek Oxford led the way for Benton with 22 points and 12 rebounds – his 10th consecutive game with 20-plus points – and Austin Wills scored 13 points and added three rebounds, three steals and two assists in the lopsided victory that improved the Junior Rangers to 19-4 overall.

BMS will face the host Hamilton County Foxes in Saturday’s regional title game that will tip off at 10 a.m.

Coach John Cook’s team jumped out to a 12-5 first quarter lead, extended it to 26-14 at the intermission and then put the game on ice by outscoring the Redbirds 19-4 in the third quarter.

Cook  has mixed and matched his eighth and seventh grade players this year and many times the seventh graders played three and sometimes four quarters in the seventh grade game before also contributing many minutes at the eighth grade level. With no seventh grade contest last night Cook said the fresh legs off the bench by his seventh graders helped in the win.

“We received a great deal of energy off the bench from our seventh graders, Hamilton Page and Gehrig Wynn,” said Cook. “I thought they both did a great job of coming in and bringing a little more intensity to both ends of the floor. Hamilton played positions that he isn’t used to playing and he knew exactly what to do and where to be. That shows how much he pays attention to detail in practice.”

Cook also lauded the effort in holding the West Frankfort team to only 20 points on the night.

“I was pleased with the defensive effort,” said Cook. “We communicated well on ball screens and had good rotations on the bottom of our defense.”

Noting the one-and-done format of post season where a loss now ends the season, Cook said he was pleased but at the same time downplayed the victory.

“Certainly this was a good win for us,” said Cook. “But it is also only one step toward where we ultimately want to be.

Also contributing to the win for Benton was Blane Pankey with eight points and three rebounds, Tyson Houghland with four points and four rebounds, Gehrig Wynn with three points and three rebounds, Scott Mosely with three points, and Hamilton Page with five rebounds. Also seeing action in the semi-final win was Oliver Davis, Parker Williams, Tony Tillman, Jordan Richey, Brett Bonenberger and Jordan Garbo.









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