The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Hoops: Benton hands Harrisburg second loss of season

  • Bulldogs lose second conference game of year for first time since 2010
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  • The rust that surrounded Harrisburg following it's historic run in capturing a fourth-straight Eldorado Holiday Tournament title could have used a little more WD40 at Benton Friday night.
    The Bulldogs could only watch as Benton shot 24-of-42 from the field as the Rangers knocked off Harrisburg 71-65 River-to-River Ohio Conference action at Rich Herrin Gymnasium.
    Statistically speaking, the most glaring stat on both sides was the fact that Benton (5-7, 2-1) went 21-for-27 from the free throw line in the second half, including an 18-for-22 mark in the fourth quarter, while Harrisburg was sent to the line just twice, hitting 1-of-2.
    Benton head coach Ron Winemiller said his Rangers take care of business at the charity stripe, as they are shooting 77 percent from the line this season.
    "I kind of expect that," Winemiller said. "We missed one and you're like, 'get it down,' but then you look up and you're 15-of-16 in the fourth quarter. I thought our guys were able to make some key plays down the stretch and finish it off."
    Harrisburg (9-2, 1-2) head coach Randy Smithpeters said his team squad could have had the shooting night of the year and he didn't think the Bulldogs could overcome the foul differential.
    "I don't know how you overcome that," Smithpeters said. "We had a hard time overcoming the three throw deficit, which was basically the entire second half. Benton is a good free throw shooting team, but it's very hard for us to overcome that number, that's for sure."
    Benton led at the end of each quarter, taking a 12-11 lead after one and pulling ahead 30-25 at intermission.
    The two teams played through nine lead changes and three ties in the first half, with no lead bigger by five, which was held by Harrisburg when they led 20-15 after a bucket by Anfernee Houston.
    Benton responded with a 6-0 run and closed out the first half with six points from Derek Oxford, who led all scorers with a game-high 19 points.
    Benton never trailed in the second half, despite numerous runs by Harrisburg.
    The Bulldogs made a conscious effort to go to Eli Taborn-Scott to start the second half as the senior had a quiet first half with just two points, via the free throw line.
    Taborn-Scott had seven to start the third to pull Harrisburg to 34-32 and despite exchanging blows, Benton built its biggest lead of the game at seven with under a minute to play as Oxford got the deuce and abuse to give Benton a 48-40 lead going into the game's final eight minutes.
    A basket by Houston with with 4:13 to play made it a 54-52 lead for the Rangers as Benton went 6-for-6 from the line, including a pair of free throws by Nathanael Higgins with 1:54 to play after Smithpeters was called for a technical after being out of the coaches box.
    Page 2 of 3 - "Offensively we weren't very sharp and we missed a lot of shots," Smithpeters said. "We don't tend to shoot very well here anyway. Defensively we have to get better. We didn't defend very well at Eldorado, where we gave up 77 points to Meridian.
    Tonight was a more controlled game from the Rangers, which is what we expected with what they had. On the flip side, we have to run our offense better."
    Harrisburg was held to 19-of-57 from the field for 33 percent, while shooting 3-of-10 from beyond the arc and 6-of-11 from the foul line;
    The Bulldogs did out rebound Benton 26-18 and forced the Rangers into 14 turnovers, while committing just 9 themselves.
    Harrisburg was led in scoring by Taborn-Scott's 22 points, while Bahari Amaya tacked on 18.
    Amaya and Houston both played the second half in foul trouble, resulting in fouling out in the final minutes, forcing Smithpeters to go to an underdeveloped bench in the waning moments.
    Higgins had 17 for Benton, while Kruz Hayes, who is the grandson of Harrisburg's Jim Hayes and son to 3-sport All-South athlete Jamie Hayes, had 15 points.
    Trey McDaniel tacked on 11 points for the Rangers.
    It was Benton second home game of the season for the Rangers and Winemiller acknowledged how hard it is to win in the competitive Ohio Division of the River-to-River.
    "Those aren't easy to come by in this conference, whether you are home or on the road, but I thought our kids were locked in all week in practice and that's why we were able to get this done tonight.
    "Harrisburg is so long and so athletic and we had to find what we felt like we could attack. We were able to get into some gaps and hit some shots early, luckily get it done."
    The loss for Harrisburg snaps a 10-game win streak against the Rangers. The Bulldogs' longest win steak against any opponent is now 13 against West Frankfort, with the last loss coming by two points in the 2007-08 season.
    Harrisburg has not suffered two conference losses in the same season since 2010 when the Bulldogs lost to Murphysboro twice. Since then, the Bulldogs have won four straight over the Red Devils.
    Harrisburg is scheduled to play at Woodlawn on Tuesday and will close out next week with a home game against Murphysboro Friday, followed by a cross-county rival game against Eldorado Saturday at Duff-Kingston Gymnasium.
    Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister.com. Follow him on twitter @spydieshooter.
    Harrisburg 11 14 15 25 — 65
    Benton 12 18 18 23 — 71
    Harrisburg (9-2, 1-2): Houston 4-9 0-0 9, Goldman 4-8 0-0 8, Simerly 2-3 0-0 4, Amaya 7-11 3-3 18, Scott 9-23 3-5 22, Crim 1-3 0-2 4, Street 0-0 0-0 0, Lane 0-0 0-0 0, Gregg 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-57 6-11 65.
    Page 3 of 3 - Benton(5-7, 2-1): McDaneil 3-8 5-6 11, Owens 0-1 2-2 2, Oxford 6-8 6-7 19, Hayes 6-7 1-2 15, Higgins 6-11 4-5 17, Ritchason 1-1 0-0 2, Head 2-6 0-0 5, Simpson 0-0 0-0 0, Dawson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-42 21-27 71.
    3-pointers: Harrisburg 3-10 (Houston 1-4, Simerly 0-1, Amaya 1-4, Scott 1-1), Benton 5-10 (Oxford 1-2, Hayes 2-2, Higgins 1-3, Head 1-2). Turnovers: Harrisburg 9, Benton 14. Rebounds: Harrisburg 26, Benton 18. Fouls: Harrisburg 20, Benton 14.
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