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BENTON — An 11-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters gave Benton early separation and the Rangers rolled to a 75-32 win over West Frankfort in SIRR Ohio Division play.

The Rangers outscored West Frankfort 29-3 in the second quarter, building a 44-10 lead at intermission. Benton forced 10 Redbird turnovers in the first half.

“I thought our pressure kind of overwhelmed them,” said Benton coach Ron Winemiller. “We made an adjustment there at the start of the second quarter. We weren’t let (Noah) Allen catch it and race it downhill. I thought that was really the key adjustment in the game.”

West Frankfort’s Kyle Hammers scored on a drive down the middle, pulling the Redbirds to within 13-7 with 2:43 left in the first. That bucket seemed to ignite the Rangers.

Timmy Henson countered with a close range shot to close the first quarter scoring, but the Rangers ripped off nine straight points to start the second quarter. Benton got most of the points in the paint, taking advantage of West Frankfort turnovers.

Derek Oxford capped the Benton run with a pair of free throws, pushing the Rangers lead to 24-7.

“They are extremely athletic,” said West Frankfort coach Kevin Toney. “They’re extremely quick and explosive to the ball. They know where to cut. They know where their teammates are and they pass the ball extremely well. They each have a balance of skills. They can all shoot it and pass it. They simply beat us in every phase of the game.”

West Frankfort’s Keegan Tharash finally broke the Benton string with a score from close range, but the Redbirds scored just one more point in the quarter.

“The thing I was happiest about is we were able to score without making a boatload of threes,” Winemiller said. “I think we were 3-of-11 in the first half. We still had 44 points. That was the thing I was happiest about. We didn’t have to rely on making 25-footers to score points.”

The threes came in the third quarter when the Rangers made four in the span of two minutes. Gehrig Wynn had two of the three and four on the night.

Oxford and Wynn led Benton with 14 points each while Austin Wills had 13 and Parker Williams 12.

“We were very balanced,” Winemiller said. “This team is going to be balanced. There’s been some nights we’ve had some guys get really hot, but for the most part we always have two or three guys around 15 points. That’s kind of the way we’re built.”

Tharash led West Frankfort with 12.

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les.winkeler@thesouthern.com / 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler

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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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