Thompsonville beats Hardin County

The Thompsonville Tigers and Hardin County Cougars appeared to be locked into a four-quarter struggle Friday night. After one period, seeing considerable offensive success for both teams, the hosts led by two buckets, 17-13.
In quarter No. 2, the Tigers put some distance between themselves and their opponents based on a 16-5 advantage in the second eight minutes. That halftime edge of 15 points propelled them on to a win by virtually the same margin 51-38.
Ryan Darnell blistered the nets for 16 points, and Lance Darnell nearly matched it with 11 as the only Tigers in double figures.
Hardin County had the game high scorer in Austin with 17 points on the night.
With the win, Thompsonville ran their record to 9-6 for this season.

Rangers lose at home to Massac County

In essence saying “do the math,” Benton Ranger coach Ron Winemiller pointed out something following Benton’s 66-46 loss at home to Massac County Friday night.
Winemiller said, “We played three good quarters of basketball. But as we all know, the game is four quarters long.”
What the Ranger head coach was referring to was a huge first quarter deficit that his club could not make up. After one quarter, Massac County did what every visiting team sets as a goal: survive and thrive the opening of the game in front of their opponent’s home crowd. At the end of the first quarter, the Patriots led 28-6.
For the next three periods, the Rangers played almost even basketball with Massac, even outscoring them in the second frame, 12-11. However, giving up 39 first-half points proved to be too much to overcome. Winemiller pointed to a problem for his club being confidence. “We needed to see the ball go into the hole more often.”
The Rangers, pressured by the Joe Hosmon-coached  signature defensive intensity, felt pressure from the opening tip. Another signature Patriot calling card is their ability to shoot behind the arc. Massac hit six 3-pointers while Benton could only manage three ( Higgins 2 and Head 1).
Massac was led in scoring by emerging star Daz Nickerson with 13 points. The Patriot offense featured balanced scoring with four players in double figures.
Game high-scoring honors went to Nathaniel Higginson with 17 points. Other Ranger output included: Sheeks 9, Forby 8, Head 3, Ward 3, and Hughes 2.
The Rangers fell to 5-9 for the season and to .500 in the conference splitting four league games.
Up next for Benton is undefeated Harrisburg at 15-0 for the season. The Bulldogs are looking for a sweep of Franklin County as they knocked off West Frankfort Friday night.

Redbird boys drop 2013 opener


The second meeting of the Harrisburg Bulldogs and the West Frankfort Redbirds was quite similar to the first meeting between the two clubs. The first meeting came in the second round of the Eldorado Holiday Tournament. That game was won by Harrisburg 72-41.

Game One began with the Redbirds aggressively attacking the Bulldog defense, and holding a first quarter lead. But, Harrisburg came storming back to put the game out of reach by halftime.

Friday night, Dan Dewerff’s team stayed with the same battle plan. Early, that plan worked. At the high point of  the first quarter the ‘Birds held a 10-4 lead over their visitors. But, following a time out, and lecture by Harrisburg Coach Randy Smithpeters, the Bulldogs refocused, regrouped and went on a 12-0 run to end the quarter with a 16-14 lead.

Much of the first half momentum for the area’s best team came from a stifling full-court defense. The Redbirds wilted under the press, with frequent turnovers and mistakes.

At the half, the game was not in doubt as Harrisburg led 46-25 having doubled up their opponent’s second quarter scoring 30-15.

That second quarter pull-away for the Bulldogs was punctuated with three 3-point shots from Ryne Roper who had 11 in that frame alone.  By third quarter’s conclusion, Harrisburg was cruising 63-41.

Going into the final quarter, Harrisburg had cleared their bench leading 63-41 . The end result was another lopsided Bulldog win of 76-54.

Harrisburg remains unbeaten 15-0. The Redbird record is now 3-9. The ‘Birds are winless in the Ohio Division with a 0-4 mark.
Harrisburg placed all of their five starters in double figures. They were lead by the14 points of Tyler Smithpeters and 14 for Ryne Roper, 12 for Eli Taborn-Scott, 11 for Dakota Upchurch, 10 for Capal Henshaw.
The Redbirds had one player in double figures with 5-8 Senior Trenton Easley scoring 16 points. This was followed by:  Williams 9, Dunning 8,Fort 7.Koel 5,Sisk 4, Maller,Bartoni and Keller with 2 points, each.
Harrisburg completed the sweep of the night on the road having won the JV game easily crushing the Redbirds 75-35.
Tuesday, the Redbirds play host to Hamilton County in a non-conference game at Max Morris Gym. The JV game begins at 6:15 pm.

Lady Redbirds to play 2013 calendar opener Saturday


A reminder, the West Frankfort Lady Redbirds will open the 2013 portion of their schedule this afternoon. Matt Hampleman’s Lady Birds will try to improve on 2012 as they head to Eldorado.

Tip-off at Duff-Kingston Gymnasium is set for 1 p.m. this afternoon against their Black Diamond Conference foe. Ohio Division play resumes for the girls Tuesday, at Massac County.

Bulldogs come to West Frankfort

West Frankfort senior Trenton Easley dribbles past Harrisburg defenders during the team’s Dec. 29 match-up at the Eldorado Holiday Tournament. Harrisburg travels to Max Morris Gymnasium on Friday night to take on the Redbirds in the first game of 2013.


The West Frankfort Redbird boys varsity basketball team believes that they are an improved ball club over the course of the season. and, they believed that they showed some of that improvement in the just completed Eldorado Holiday Basketball Tournament. The Harrisburg Bulldogs say: “Prove it.”

The champions of the recently concluded EHT invade West Frankfort’s Max Morris Gym Friday night as both teams get the 2013 portion of their schedules underway. They have one meeting already under their belts as Harrisburg pulled away from the ‘Birds for an easy win in the EHT second round. The Redbirds actually led by a bucket at first quarters end in that game.

The JV game begins at 6 p.m., and the varsity contest starts at approximately 7:45 p.m. Friday. It is an Ohio Division ballgame.

The Redbirds open 2013 with a 3-8 record, and are winless in the conference so far.

Redbirds eliminated from EHT


The West Frankfort Redbirds gave fourth seeded Union County, Kentucky all they wanted, before the Braves pulled away for a victory. The game was played as the first game of the Monday morning session of the Eldorado Holiday Tournament. With the loss, the Redbirds were eliminated from the EHT. However, they continue to show improvement and are arguably a better team than when the tournament began.

Quarter number one saw the Redbirds take a 7-6 lead after the first period. The fortunes of the Union County team changed in the second quarter. four of their five starters scored in the quarter. Three of those players had two field goals. That balanced scoring made the Braves difficult for the slower Redbirds to guard. Transition buckets after turnovers also plagued West Frankfort. Still, at intermission it was anyone’s game with Union county taking a 26-19 lead into the locker room.

Both teams replicated cold shooting and ball handling problems in the third quarter. West Frankfort scored 5 points in the quarter and Union county just 6 points. And, the third quarter ended with the game still in doubt, 32-24 with the Kentucky team leading.In the fourth quarter, Stan Helmsley ordered his team to spread the floor and work for good shots, while winding down the clock. The plan worked to perfection, as especially Jahad Flemming was the resilient of passes that led to lay-ups. Flemming had 8 of his game high 19 points in the fourth quarter. He was top scorer for the fourth seeded club.

The loss eliminated West Frankfort from the tournament. scoring for the Redbirds: Korolenko 12, Koehl 7, Easley 5,Fort 3,Maller/Williams/Keller 2 points.

The Redbirds were outrebounded 26-22 in the game.

The ‘birds fall to 3-8 for the season. The next regular season game is at home friday when the Redbirds welcome in EHT tournament champion Harrisburg in an Ohio Division game, at Max Morris Gym.

Redbirds fall to top-seeded Bulldogs

West Frankfort Senior Trenton Easley shoots under heavy guard from the Harrisburg Bulldogs at the Eldorado Holiday Tournament on Saturday.


The Harrisburg Bulldogs may well win the 2012 Eldorado Holiday Tournament, but or a brief moment, at least one team threatened to block their path. Playing aggressive basketball in their quarterfinal match-up, the upstart West Frankfort Redbirds led 15-13 after one quarter Saturday afternoon.

The Redbirds came out of the locker room with nothing left to lose except take it to the #1 seeded Bulldogs.

The Redbirds got to the bracket match-up with a thrilling last second 3-point shot by Braxston Koehl the day prior. In the first quarter against Harrisburg, the Redbirds were patient and used skillful passing to build the lead.

The first points of the second quarter came on a 3-point shot by Tyler Smithpeters, giving Harrisburg a 16-15 lead. Whatever Coach Randy Smithpeters said to his ballclub between quarters ignited a fire inside his team.

Harrisburg exploded for a 31-9 second quarter advantage to re-establish their credibility.

By the half, the Redbirds found themselves hopelessly out of reach, 44-24.  In that decisive frame, Smithpeters had three swishes beyond the arc as part of his 12 point second frame total.  By the end of the third quarter the score was 66-36. That 30 point advantage involved the continuous clock at Duff-Kingston Gym.  The final score was Harrisburg 72-41 win. It was similar to the first day’s first round win over Hardin County for Harrisburg.

Game high scorer was Tyler Smithpeters, who burned the nets for 30 points. The Redbirds were led by 14 points from sophomore Christian Dunning. Trenton Easley also scored in double figures for the ‘Birds with 10 points. Other Redbird scorers included: Maller and Koehl with 4 apiece, 3 points for Sisk, 2 for Keller, and a single point for Korolenko.

Harrisburg had a huge rebounding advantage in the game, 33-21. WF turned the ball over 16 times, Harrisburg 15 times.

With the loss the Redbirds drop to 3-7 for the season. They continue in the Eldorado Holiday Tournament with an 8:30 a.m. game Monday morning. In the breakfast meeting, they will play Union County, Kentucky. Union County dropped a 46-44 game to Massac County on Saturday, in which the Braves had three consecutive misses under the basket as the game ended.

Redbirds win EHT thriller

Sophomore Braxston Koehl puts up the winning shot in the West Frankfort Redbirds 55-52 defeat of the Fairfield Mules on Friday in Eldorado.


The ability to dig out of things comes in handy these days. The West Frankfort Redbirds proved themselves adept at digging out of a huge hole Friday morning. Sophomore Braxston Koehl’s desperation 3-point  heave with no time remaining gave the West Frankfort Redbirds a 55-52 win  over the Fairfield Mules. The game was the opening game for the Redbirds in the 2012  Eldorado Holiday Tournament.

It was all Fairfield in the first half. The Mules took advantage of an anemic West Frankfort offense in building an 11-point first quarter lead. By half-time, the Mules led 27-16.

Senior Trenton Easley prepares for a fourth quarter drive toward the basket.

But, by the end of the third quarter the “Birds had cut the double digit lead to 37-35 and had momentum on their side entering the final eight minutes of regulation. Zack Fort was 3 of 3 behind the arc and added a field goal as well with an 11-point third quarter outburst to lead the comeback.

In the final quarter, both teams had leads and chances to put the game away. The final two minutes were hectic for both teams. Koehl’s 3-point shot tied the game at 8 with 2:12 left to play. Senior Trenton Easley’s acrobatic reverse lay-up gave the Redbirds a 52-50 lead with 1:44 left.

Redbird cheerleaders pump up the crowd in between the first and second quarters of Friday’s game.

After mistakes by both teams, Fairfield added a bucket with 3.8 seconds remaining that seemed to send the game into overtime.

However, the Redbirds inbounded the ball, putting it into the hands of Koehl. He crossed the half-line and let go of a shot between the half-line and the three-point arc. It went through the net as time expired to cap off the comeback win.

Koehl was mobbed by teammates and cheered by West Frankfort fans sitting directly behind the winning goal. at Duff Kingston Gymnasium.

The team mobs Braxston Koehl after his game-winning shot.

Scoring for West Frankfort: Fort 15, Easley, 14.Koehl, 11, Keller 6, Dunning , Korolenko 4.The Redbirds were out-rebounded 31-26 by Fairfield. Dan Dewerff’s club was 12 of 21 from the free-throw line. West Frankfort was called for 16 turnovers on the game.

With the win, the Redbirds go to 3-6 on the season. Their next opponent is the Harrisburg Bulldogs. The top seeded Bulldogs easily dispatched Hardin County 74-32. The two Ohio Division members meet at 3:15 Saturday afternoon in a second round winners bracket game.

Redbirds begin holiday tournament play in Eldorado


The West Frankfort Redbirds begin play at 11:30 a.m. Friday in the Eldorado Holiday Tournament. The tournament was delayed one day by the blizzard. The schedule stays the same as it was bracketed, just that play days will be today, Saturday, and the tournament will conclude on New Year’s Eve.

In the first round, the Redbirds will play Fairfield. The Mules are the 8th seeded team in the tournament.

Like Dan Dewerff’s Redbirds, the Mules have a sub .500 record going into play. The game is viewed as a toss up by most observers. The Redbirds own one of their two wins on this floor, having beaten host Eldorado earlier in the season in a regular season match-up.

The winner of this game has a 3 p.m. appointment Saturday with probably top-seeded Harrisburg. The loser of the Harrisburg/Hardin County game will play the loser of the Redbird game in the consolation bracket on Saturday morning at 8:30am.

The Redbird game can be heard online at

Holiday hoops action kicks off this morning as region digs out from Christmas blizzard


A blizzard may have delayed holiday week basketball in Southern Illinois this year, but it couldn’t stop it. Many of the regions’ girls’ and boys’ basketball tournaments that traditionally start on the day after Christmas will begin today, Dec. 27. Here’s a look at each Franklin County team’s schedule for the first day of games:


The Rangers are playing in Pool C at the Duster Thomas Hoops Classic at Pinckneyville Community High School. They face Jerseyville at 10:30 a.m. Friday in Thomas Gym, and Teutopolis at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Auxiliary Gym. Games on Saturday will depend on where they place in the pool Friday.


The Bearcats play Vienna today (Thursday) at 1:30 p.m. in the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament. Play will continue Friday, Saturday and Monday.


Sesser-Valier plays New Athens at 8 p.m. today in the holiday tournament they are hosting at Sesser-Valier High School. Play continues Friday, Saturday and Monday.


The Redbirds will play in the Eldorado Holiday Tournament, which runs Friday, Saturday and Monday. They face Fairfield at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.


The Z-R boys play Waltonville today (Thursday) at 10:30 a.m. in the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament. Play will continue Friday, Saturday and Monday.


Benton’s girls are playing in the tournament they host, the Benton Rangerette Christmas Classic 2012. The Rangerettes play Anna-Jonesboro at 11 a.m. today, Trico at 12:30 p.m. Friday and Goreville at 7 p.m. Saturday.




Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News