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Nashville's defense stymies Rangers

  • Benton guard Brad Hammond drives toward the bucket in Saturday's game against Nashville. Hammond was 1-of-6 from the field for three points. Nashville remained unbeaten in 10 games.

    Benton guard Brad Hammond drives toward the bucket in Saturday's game against Nashville. Hammond was 1-of-6 from the field for three points. Nashville remained unbeaten in 10 games.
    RICK HAYES

 
By Rick Hayes
updated: 12/19/2018 2:24 PM

Unbeaten Nashville held Benton to its lowest scoring output this season in racking up a 42-23 victory at Rich Herrin Gym on Saturday.

Shooting over 50 percent -- including a 65 percent clip in the first half -- and a suffocating defense, the Hornets proved they will be a tough out for any opponent this postseason.

The Rangers' loss comes on the heels of a dramatic 49-47 buzzer-beating victory over county rival West Frankfort on Friday night.

Nashville jumped out to a 7-0 lead and by the end of the opening quarter had a 16-4 advantage. The Hornets, who were 11-of-17 in the first half, held Benton to 4-of-16 shooting. The Hornets finished hitting 57 percent of its shots and held the Rangers to 33 percent.

No player scored in double figures for Benton. Joey Craig led the Rangers with eight points.

Nashville led 28-11 at the half. Benton held serve in the third quarter before Tristen Hercules nailed a three-ball in the final seconds to give Nashville a 33-17 lead heading into the final quarter.

"Here's the thing about Nashville: They are so long and Bultman (6-5 senior Bryce) is so crafty. Parker (6-5 junior Carson) plays off of him so well. They shot the ball so well early that you have to take chances somewhere else. We were chipping away and they hit a three. I thought we played much better in the third quarter," said Benton coach Ron Winemiller.

Parker had 14 points and Bultman 12 for Nashville (10-0).

Grant Gordon scored the winning bucket for Benton in its rivalry game Friday. Gordon went coast-to-coast with 6 seconds remaining after the Rangers blew an eight point lead in the final two minutes.

The Rangers defeated Carmi on Tuesday to go 2-1 for the week.

"We won the game that was the most important for us (this week)," said Winemiller. "We won the game that's the most important to the whole scheme of the season. You can learn as much from a loss as you can a win and I hope our guys look to see what they can do better so we continue to grow as a team."

Benton is now 7-2 (1-1) and will travel to Harrisburg on Thursday.