After a competitive first quarter, things went downhill in a hurry for the Benton boys basketball team Friday night in a rivalry matchup against the host Redbirds.
West Frankfort dominated the final three quarters of play on its way to a convincing 56-40 victory over the Rangers in SIRR Ohio Division action.
The Redbirds held Benton to just two points in the second quarter and amassed a 15-point advantage at halftime.
"I thought we really didn't go a very good job of getting the shot we wanted in the second quarter; I thought we got the shot that they allowed us to have," said Benton coach Ron Winemiller. "A lot of times those were threes, and unfortunately they didn't go in. It kind of snowballed on us from there."
C.J. Johnson and Josh Melvin each scored six points for West Frankfort in the second period, and the Redbirds ripped off the first 13 points of the quarter. Joey Craig finally stopped the bleeding for Benton when he scored two of his team-high 17 points at the 1:30 mark.
"I thought that Melvin was really the difference in the game," Winemiller said. "He was really active this time. He was good in the post, and he stepped out and hit some jumpers that he didn't do the first time we played."
But it got worse for the Rangers in the third period. Ethan Culley scored the final five points of an 8-2 West Frankfort run to start the quarter. That saw the Redbird advantage balloon to 21 points.
Nothing seemed to go right for the Rangers, who had plenty of trouble limiting the 6-foot-5 Johnson, who racked up a game-high 21 points.
"We want to get our guys as much rest as we can so they're fresh going into the postseason," Winemiller said. "Secondly, we need to continue to try to tweak things and get better until the regional gets here."
Mason Wills was the only other Ranger to reach double figures; he scored 10 points. Kyle Hammers added 12 points for West Frankfort, and Melvin contributed 10.
West Frankfort improved to 17-10 overall and 4-2 in conference play.
Benton was able to turn things around on Saturday in the Rich Herrin Shootout. The Rangers throttled Vandalia, 69-50. Winemiller was pleased to see his team fight back after a disappointing performance the previous night.
"That was really good, and it was a nice comeback win for us," Winemiller said. "I thought our guys played with a lot more effort and energy (Saturday). Luckily, we were able to get out of here with a victory."
The Rangers (18-8, 3-4) return to action with a pair of home conference games against Harrisburg Friday and Massac County Saturday.