The first round of the IHSA Class 3A Herrin Regional saw the Benton Rangerettes (17-13) against the host team, Herrin Tigers. Previously, the Tigers defeated the Rangerettes on their home court while the Rangerettes took a victory at the Rich Herrin Gym.
After a battle of wills, the Rangerettes pulled out a come-from-behind 49-43 victory and knocked the home team out of the Regional competition.
"We"ve been through a lot this season with injuries and illness," said Andy Sloan, Rangerettes coach. "We"ve never quit… I"m proud that they never gave up. We didn"t have a lot of shots fall in the first, but we never let their lead get away from us."
Things started slow for the visiting Rangerettes who only scored one point in the opening quarter—a solo free throw from Ally Gischer (16 points) to start the scoring for both teams.
The Tigers then took control of the quarter and drained 8 points. They continued to pad their lead into the second quarter as they opened the scoring with their second 3-pointer of the night.
Meanwhile, the Rangerettes struggled to find their groove, but eventually Gischer got her team back into the game with a jumper. The visitors continued on a 5-point run with another jumper from Gischer and a solo free throw from Kaylee Pedigo (her only point of the game).
Zoe Carlton (13 points) and Alexis Abney (7 points) also got on the board for the Rangerettes, but the Tigers were successful at their own end with field goals and free throws. They maintained their lead (20-12) going into the half.
"In halftime we talked about chipping away at their lead," Sloan said. "I thought we did a good job at the free throw line to get over that hump."
Both teams scored 14 points apiece in the third quarter. Eb Casey (11 points) tallied points for the Rangerettes in a 6-point rally to stay nipping at the home team"s lead. Moments later, she drained her first of two 3-point buckets to put her team behind by 5 points (29-24).
Meanwhile the Tigers were sent to the free throw line seven times throughout the quarter and 10 of their 14 opportunities. This helped the home team keep their 8-point lead going into the final quarter.
The Rangerettes opened the scoring in the fourth with Casey"s second trey of the game. Gischer followed her teammate"s lead and added three points of her own (a jumper and a solo free throw). Then, with just over four minutes in the game, Carlton put up back-to-back field goals to knot the score at 36.
Gischer went in for a layup to take the lead for the Rangerettes which they did not give back to the home team.
The visitors padded their lead with help from a solo free throw from Ember Milby, a jumper by Carlton and then three trips to the free throw line in the last minute of the game. Their all-around team effort earned the Rangerettes their spot in the second round of the regionals.
They play again on Thursday night (7 p.m.) against Murphysboro. A team that the Rangerettes have previously beaten twice.
"They"re a good team," Sloan said of Murphysboro. "We have to go in a limit what they do. We have to keep the ball at our end of the court as much as possible.
"Since January 1 we"ve been figuring things out… we still have things we need to work on in order to get better."