Despite an off-shooting night, Benton's Rangerettes made enough defensive stops to take a 41-26 nonconference victory over Du Quoin last Thursday at Rich Herrin Gym.
Teams now familiar with Benton's outside shooting threat are combating that threat with zone defenses. The Lady Indians had some success in employing a 2-1-2 zone, resulting in 4-of-22 shooting (18 percent) from the Rangerettes from beyond the arc.
"I told them at halftime you just have to keep shooting the ball," said Benton coach Andy Sloan, who saw his team make just three treys in 16 attempts in the first half. "It's just like being in a batting slump in softball. You don't go up to the plate and put the bat on your shoulder, you just swing away. I felt like we could've gotten the ball inside more. We've got to get more post touches when we do get zoned and work it inside out."
Sophomore Addisyn Miller, who was 1-for-8 in the first half, rebounded in the second half, scoring nine of her team-high 12 points.
"She struggled a little bit and I told her to keep shooting," Sloan said. "I told her she is a good shooter and not to let it get to her mentally. It's a good thing our defense showed up tonight because offensively we struggled."
Miller drained a three-ball to start the second quarter to give the Rangerettes an 11-9 lead they would never surrender. A Lacey Jerkins three-point play, followed by a jumper in the lane from Ember Milby put the Rangerettes up 16-9. The Lady Indians would narrow the margin to five by halftime.
Benton outscored Du Quoin 8-2 in the third quarter to take an 11-point lead of 24-13 into the final quarter.
The Rangerettes turned up the defensive pressure in the final eight minutes, forcing the Lady Indians into turnovers and back-to-back transition buckets from Mady Wallace and Miller. The 6-2 outburst led to a 30-15 Benton lead with 6 ½ minutes left in the game.
Wallace, who was 6-of-6 from the charity stripe, added eight points while Ember Milby and Jerkins contributed seven each. It was just the second game back for Jerkins and teammate Macie Cockrum, returning from earlier season injuries.
"Her (Cockrum) timing is off a little bit right now and that's going to happen. We've got this stretch of games (playing five games in five days at Eldorado), it's nice to have a little bit of a bench because there for awhile we were playing six kids," Sloan said.
Earlier in the week, the Rangerettes beat conference rival Herrin 38-25 at home.
Benton led 8-0 at the end of the first quarter, stretching it to 22-7 by halftime.
Herrin cut the deficit to eight points on two occasions in the final quarter, however the Rangerettes outscored the Lady Tigers 8-3 in the final six minutes of the game.
Wallace led the offensive charge for Benton with 12 points. Milby and Zoe Carlton added six points each.
"It was a big conference game for us, one I was worried about because we beat them handily (47-34) over there. I thought our kids had pretty good focus and our defensive effort was good," Sloan said.
Benton is now 14-6 overall and 5-1 in conference play.