An assistant coach calls them the "comeback kids."
Sesser-Valier/Waltonville outscored Benton's Rangerettes 9-3 in the final 4 ½ minutes at Rich Herrin Gym on Wednesday night to take a 41-36 victory and Franklin County bragging rights for another year.
Down by 10 points early in the second half, the Lady Red Devils played five guards and turned up the defensive pressure, resulting in several unforced turnovers. Benton finished the game with 16 turnovers, compared to 11 for the 'Devils.
S-V-W turned that deficit into a two-point lead of 28-26 heading into the final quarter after Peyton Wilderman and freshman Micah Reynolds threw down successive three-pointers in the final 62 seconds.
Both teams made six three-point baskets, with S-V draining four in the turnaround third quarter.
Sami McCowen, who had half of those long-range buckets, led the Red Devils with 14 points. McCowen has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Rend Lake College.
Benton's Addisyn Miller and Ember Milby had back-to-back treys of their own early in the fourth for a 32-30 lead. However, Ella Zahm tied the contest on a baseline jumper with 6:13 to go. Benton's final lead of 33-32 came on a Mady Wallace free throw.
From there, the Lady Red Devils pushed up and down the floor and increased its defensive pressure, resulting in the momentum shift and ultimate victory.
"They went to that triangle and two and we actually had prepared for that and knew it was coming. We didn't react to it very well, didn't attack and turned the ball over at half court," said Benton coach Andy Sloan. "We dribbled uncharacteristically out of control and we started playing in their hands."
Benton led 19-13 at the half and built that up to 23-13 three minutes into the second half.
"Our two bigs weren't getting the job done inside so that's the first time in several years we went to five guards out," said S-V coach Rick Metcalf, who says this is his final season as head coach. "I think it might've thrown them for a loop. The lanes were wide open and we were open for some three's. And we made the shots."
Benton played the entire second half without senior Macie Cockrum, who suffered a knee injury late in the first half.
"She's a senior that's good around the bucket. We don't have much of an inside presence and she's going to score. Defensively, she's a kid that can go in there and guard the post. She goes down and our bench definitely gets shorter. Hopefully, some kids will step up," Sloan said.
Miller led the Rangerettes, 8-4, with 15 points. The Lady Red Devils improved to 12-3.
Metcalf is now 132-24 in six seasons as the girls head coach (.846) and 439-133 overall after 13 seasons as the boys coach.