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Rangers have sights set on Regional crown

  • The 2019-2020 Benton Rangers Varsity Boys Basketball Team

    The 2019-2020 Benton Rangers Varsity Boys Basketball Team
    CHRIS KAYS | For The News

 
By Geary Deniston
Contributing Writer
updated: 11/24/2019 1:26 PM

The Benton boys basketball team is coming off its fifth straight winning season under Coach Ron Winemiller with hopes the 2019-20 Rangers will compete for its first regional title since 2016.

"You do most your transition during the summer and now we're looking to get the team in practice to see what they can do," Winemiller said. "We're a little deeper just because we're older. A lot of our guys have been through the battles a little bit and they know a little bit more what to expect playing varsity basketball and I think that helps."

After playing the past four seasons in Class 3A where Benton advanced to the sectional finals three years ago, the Rangers return to 2A where Benton had participated in since the 2007-08 season and had won consecutive regional titles under Winemiller in 2011 and 2012.

"Being back in 2A helps, but I think there's still a lot of really good teams that you have to beat to win a regional title whether you're in 2A or 3A," Winemiller said.

Winemiller lost three starters off last year's team that went 19-12 and lost in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals to Centralia, 48-39, for its earliest exit from the playoffs since the first season in 2A when Illinois went to four classes.

Winemiller has two returning senior starters to build around in guards Carson Lewis and Brad Hammond. In addition junior guard Reece Johnson has joined the team as a transfer from Neoga.

"Reece will step in and be our point guard to replace Grant Gordon, who transferred to Christopher and it's been a pretty seamless transition," Winemiller said. "Carson will be a three-year starter and Brad a two-year starter. Reece has started since he was a freshman, so even though it's his first year with us he's accustomed to starting as well, so we're going to lean on those guys as leaders and as our scorers. Hammond was our leading 3-point shooter last year."

Also back are junior post players Jacob Seidel and Wyatt McClintock and sophomore guard Reid Baumgarte.

"We have two juniors in Jake and Wyatt, who are going to have to step in the play a bunch of minutes," Winemiller said. "Reid came off the bench last year as a freshman and played quite a few minutes, so we trust him. We feel good about those four guards. We've got a lot of experience in our back court, but our front court is not as experienced, so we'll going to have to rely on our guards, especially early in the season. Those front court guys getting to the level we need them sooner rather than later will be the key to how successful we are."

Benton Rangers Roster

No. Name Hgt. Class. Pos. 3 Ayden Newcomb 5-10 Jr. G

4 Blake Stewart 5-10 Sr. G

5 Keegan Glover 6-0 So. G

10 Payton Bayless 5-9 Jr. G

11 Carson Lewis 6-4 Sr. G

12 Reid Baumgarte 5-10 So. G

14 Jacob Seidel 6-5 Jr. F

15 Wyatt McClintock 6-1 Jr. F

22 Mitch Giaccone 6-1 Jr. G

25 Brad Hammond 5-10 Sr. G

31 Quinn Gajewski 6-2 Jr. G

32 Reece Johnson 6-1 Jr. G

33 Chase Thomas 6-0 So. G

34 Tyler Chamness 5-9 So. G

42 Aiden Peach 6-4 So. F