Holding a precarious three point lead with 25 seconds to go, Benton junior Carson Lewis blocked a shot in the closing seconds and then went coast to coast for an uncontested layup in giving the Rangers a 40-35 conference victory here Friday night.
"He (Lewis) did a great job of playing the ball without fouling him and staying on his feet and letting Travis (Zach who took the shot) jump first and then just being real athletic," said Benton coach Ron Winemiller.
Benton completed a weekend sweep of its opponents with a 47-32 home victory over Livingston County (Ky.) on Saturday.
Benton would take an eight point lead into the final quarter at Metropolis. However, the Patriots would go on an 9-0 run and take a 32-31 lead with just under six minutes left in the game.
"We did a pretty good job of withstanding their run and I thought we played calm, cool and collected down the stretch," Winemiller said.
The teams would trade leads until Joey Craig tied the game at 35 on a free throw at the three minute mark. In the final two minutes, neither team could score a field goal -- other than Carson's breakaway just ahead of the final horn.
Senior guard Mason Wills hit 3-of-4 free throws in the closing two minutes, resulting in the final outcome.
"I thought our seniors really good tonight. Joey was good the whole game and Wills stepped up and hit those two big free throws when all the pressure was on," Winemiller said.
Craig led the Rangers with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Lewis added eight and Wills five points, respectively.
The game got off to a snail-paced start with Benton leading 9-8 at the end of the first quarter after Grant Gordon hit his team's only 3-point bucket of the night with two seconds on the clock. The Patriots held a 16-15 lead at halftime.
"I felt like we needed it to be like that. They've got guys that can score and we did a good job being patient offensively and getting what we wanted," Winemiller said of the start.
The pace picked up significantly in the third quarter with seven lead changes before the Rangers went on a 6-0 run to close the quarter and their eight point lead.
Julian Russell led Massac County, 11-5 (2-1), with 12 points.
Benton shot 35 percent from the field and made 9-of-13 free throws.
Wills scored eight of his 13 points in the third quarter in helping the Rangers to their victory Saturday night. Brad Hammond led the Rangers with 14 points.
The Rangers shot 51 percent from the field while the Cardinals were 43 percent from the floor.
Benton took its largest lead of 15 points, 39-24, to start the fourth quarter -- matched by a 45-30 score and the final outcome.
The Rangers, 12-4 (3-1), will host conference rival Murphysboro on Friday at Rich Herrin Gym.