GOREVILLE — Anna-Jonesboro swept through the competition at the 6th Annual Goreville Invitational boys basketball tournament to win its first title since 2013.
"That was two really good teams going at it," said Benton coach Ron Winemiller. "Jake Parr hit a heck-of-a shot and I think Anna is going to have a lot of success this year."
Anna-Jonesboro (5-0) beat Hamilton County 52-34 in the morning session and came back to beat Hardin County, 69-41, in the second game of the evening session to complete the sweep. Tournament MVP Jake Parr led the Wildcats with 18 points in the nightcap, including two of the 11 A-J 3-pointers in the game. Carson Reynolds made three from beyond the arc.
"I told our guys tonight, we’ve been 4-1 and lost the title when it went head-to-head, and this is the first time we’ve gone 5-0 and that was special," said A-J coach Mike Chamness.
The Wildcats started their run in the tournament with a 67-65 overtime win over three-time champion Benton on a last second shot by Parr, and followed with wins over Johnston City, 70-39, and Goreville, 73-67.
"The win over Benton really catapulted us, I think, to a good week and gave our kids the confidence that we could play at a high level," Chamness said. "Last night against Goreville, who is a heck of a team on their home court, we got down by 12 in the third quarter, but we kept clawing back and clawing back and were able to find a way to win that one."
Benton (4-1) defeated Hardin County on Tuesday for Winemiller’s 200th win as a head coach. The Rangers then beat Hamilton County on Friday and Johnston City, 59-20, in the morning session on Saturday.
In the final game of the tournament, Benton and Goreville faced off for second place, and it was a 21-3 run in the final five minutes of the second quarter after the Blackcats had taken the lead 21-20 that gave the Rangers second place with a 72-46 win.
"We did a good job of stringing a bunch of stops together and having really, really good offensive possessions and really stretching the game out to where it was really going to be difficult for them to win," Winemiller said. "I felt our rebounding was the key. We were able to finish the possession by getting some rebounds and then we could get out in transition for some easy baskets."
The Rangers held a big edge on the boards, outrebounding the Blackcats 28-18, with Parker Williams leading Benton with 13 rebounds. Tanner Dunn added nine.
The run was sparked by four of the 10 Ranger 3-pointers, with Mason Morris making two and Gehrig Wynn and Cade Thomas one each, giving the Rangers a 17-point halftime lead.
"We just made mistakes and it snowballed," said Goreville coach Todd Tripp. "You can’t do that against good teams, especially in game five of a tournament, because you never know what’s going to happen."
Benton extended its lead to 23 points heading into the fourth quarter on back-to-back 3-pointers by Wynn.
The Rangers got out to a fast start, taking a seven-point lead four times in the first quarter, including 18-11 at the end.
Goreville (3-2) clawed back, scoring the first seven points in the second quarter to tie the score. Landon Albright got it started with a basket 10 seconds in. Tanner Dunn followed with a fast break layup and Braden Webb finished with another fast break layup and a free throw for a three-point play.
After Benton retook the lead on two free throws by Hamilton Page, Webb swished a 3-pointer from left side of the key to give Goreville its first and only lead, 21-20, with 5:48 remaining in the half.
In the first game of the evening session, Hamilton County (2-3) beat Johnston City (1-4), 51-41. Jake Whipple led the Foxes with 17 points and Chase Selby led the Indians with 16 points, including four 3-point baskets.
The All-Tournament team was comprised of Ross Pinnon and Sheldon McGrath from Anna-Jonesboro; Cade Thomas, Parker Williams and Gehrig Wynn from Benton; Tanner Dunn and Braden Webb from Goreville,; Matt Rubenacker from Hamilton County and Chase Selby from Johnston City.