Benton Evening News - Benton, IL
  • Benton rallies past Hamilton County

  • The Benton Rangers used a second-half comeback to rally past Hamilton County, 60-54, Tuesday night in Benton
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  • BENTON — The Benton Rangers used a second-half comeback to rally past Hamilton County, 60-54, Tuesday night in Benton.
    Benton (9-15) trailed 32-25 with 6:42 to play in the third quarter, but finished the quarter on an 11-4 run and tied the game at 36-36 heading into the fourth.
    The game was tied three times in the fourth before Benton created separation. A Nathanael Higgins three-point play with 3:06 to play put the Rangers up 51-48. Daulton Ward then extended the lead to 53-48 when he scored off a Higgins assist with 1:44 remaining.
    The Foxes tried to rally as they got within 56-52 with 30 seconds to play and 57-54 with 20 seconds left, but Benton sealed the win by hitting 7-of-12 free throws down the stretch.
    "I knew it wasn't going to be easy tonight," Benton coach Ron Winemiller said. "It's been a rollercoaster ride the past couple weeks. We go stretches of time where we can't score. But I thought our guards really stepped it up in the fourth quarter when it mattered most."
    Higgins finished with 19 points to pace the Rangers. Cole Forby pumped in 10 fourth-quarter points and finished with 16, while Dylan Sheeks had eight, Mat Buntin had five, Austin Myers and Dakota Head each had three and Cameron Rock, Ward and Ethan Hughes each chipped in two.
    Hamilton County (5-15) placed three players in double figures in the loss. Levi Lueke had 14, Balee Gay had 13 and Travis Stevens added 12. Logan Billington had nine, Nathan Anselment scored five and Garrett Biggerstaff had one.
    Early on, it looked like Benton would not need a late rally. The Rangers scored the game's first seven points and led 7-0 before the Foxes closed the quarter on a 12-3 run and led 12-10 after one quarter.
    Hamilton County led 22-14 with 4:05 remaining in the first half, but the Rangers were able to cut the lead to 28-23 at halftime.
    Benton outscored the Foxes 13-8 in the third quarter to tie the game entering the fourth.
    The Rangers outscored Hamilton County 24-18 in the fourth quarter by going 6-of-14 from the field. The Rangers' defense, meanwhile, held the Foxes to a just 4-of-18 performance in the final period.
    "I knew (Hamilton County) would be a much improved team from the last time we played 10 days ago at the BIT," Winemiller said. "I knew this game would be tough. They have came a long way."
    Benton, which snapped a two-game losing streak with the win, will return to action Friday night at home against Murphysboro.
    The Rangers will then host the ninth annual Rich Herrin Classic Saturday. In all, six games will be played in Rich Herrin Gymnasium, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
    Webber Township and Carrier Mills will start the action, before Johnston City and Mt. Carmel play at noon.
    Page 2 of 2 - Hamilton County and Anna-Jonesboro will take the floor at 1:30 p.m. Casey-Westfield and top-ranked Harrisburg will square off in the 3 p.m. game.
    The Benton girls team will then play the Casey-Westfield girls team at 4:30 p.m., before the Benton boys play Fairfield at 6 p.m.
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