HERRIN — The Benton and Murphysboro girls basketball teams each earned victories in the semifinals of the Herrin Class 3A Regional Tuesday night.
Benton trailed nearly the entire game, but had a huge fourth quarter and knocked off Herrin, 49-43, in the nightcap.
The Rangerettes scored the first point of the game and didn’t take the lead again until there were three minutes and change left. Benton outscored Herrin by 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“We just never give up, and this team has been through a lot this year with injuries,” said Benton coach Andy Sloan. “They don’t quit, and that’s a credit to them. We didn’t have shots that fell in the first half, and I thought we had some that did go down for us, and that gave us a little bit of confidence.”
Herrin led 34-26 after three quarters of play. But the fourth period was a disaster for the Tigers. Ebriessa Casey buried a 3-pointer for Benton early on, and the Rangerettes opened the final quarter on a 13-2 run.
Ally Gischer and Zoe Carlton scored the bulk of the points during that stretch. Maggie Connor made a basket in the paint for Herrin to stop the bleeding, but Benton had taken the lead by that point.
“Finally, we were able to get that thing tied and get over the hump,” Sloan said. “I think since January 1, we’ve played a lot better as a team. They just play so hard. I’m proud of them and happy for them to get to this point.”
Gischer paced Benton with 16 points. Carlton added 13, and Casey tallied 11. Hannah Groutage led Herrin with 15 points, and Makayla Smothers contributed 14.
In the early game, Mikayla Brasel racked up 32 points to lead Murphysboro to a 59-51 win over Marion.
The Red Devils (21-7) built a double-digit advantage in the third quarter, but never could quite put Marion away.
The Wildcats continued to hang around, and a three-point play from Orea Cosby made it a six-point ball game with six minutes to play.
“It just kind of stayed there the whole time, and I think all in all we played okay,” said Murphysboro coach Keith Jones. “We needed to rebound a little better. They’ve got two big girls that are pretty good crashing the boards. We’ve just got to make sure we’re blocking out and not letting them have second and third chances.”
Brasel scored in transition to give Murphysboro a 50-38 advantage with 3:25 to play, and the Red Devils held on for the victory.
After Nia Marshall made a basket in the paint for Marion, which tied the game 18-all early in the second quarter, the Red Devils made their move.
Murphysboro went on a 10-1 run, and Kayla Walker scored the final five points during that span. But this game belonged to Brasel. Marion had no answer for the senior guard.
“She’s the all-time leading scorer at Murphysboro; she’s pretty good,” Jones said of Brasel. “I’m glad she’s on our team.”
Abby Bayer paced Marion with 22 points, and Marshall added 11. Walker and Arie Ciganovich tallied nine points apiece for Murphysboro.
Benton takes on Murphysboro in the regional title game at 7 p.m. Thursday.