BENTON – Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy thought his team was toast at Benton Friday night.
The Red Devils squandered a five-point lead in the final 47 seconds of regulation. Murphysboro limped into overtime, then outlasted the Rangers to take a 52-47 win.
Murphysboro’s leading scorer Jeremy House fouled out at the 47-second mark. The Rangers actually took a 41-39 lead with 21 seconds remaining, but Jaron Gaston got Murphysboro into overtime by hitting two free throws with no time remaining.
“Unbelievable,” said Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy. “These kids, it was an unbelievable performance. It was a great team effort from all of them. We had to have all of them.”
Then, in overtime, Jacob Morgan stepped up in a big way. The senior guard didn’t have a single point in regulation. He scored Murphysboro’s first five points in overtime, hitting a trey at the 3:20 mark and adding a pair of free throws with just 1:16 left.
The 3-pointer set the tone for the overtime.
“A huge lift for us,” Murphy said. “I thought we were in trouble. He hits the three. We get a couple stops. They miss a shot, Morgan gets the rebound and hits two free throws. That’s just huge. Every guy I played tonight contributed.”
“That was big,” said Benton coach Ron Winemiller. “That’s huge man. Now, the other team is clawing from behind. We had just missed a shot inside. I think that was probably the shot of the game.”
Benton managed to close the gap to just two points with 39 seconds to play. After Cade Thomas had scored on a strong drive to the bucket, Gehrig Wynn came up with a steal on the inbounds play and converted a layup.
Murphysboro managed to hang on, hitting three of four free throws in the final seconds while Benton failed to score.
“They made a few more plays in overtime than we did,” Winemiller said.
Wynn played a huge role for Benton throughout the game. He not only led all scorers with 21 points, but he shadowed Jeremy House all night long, holding the prolific scorer to just three points.
“He’s an unbelievable player,” Murphy said of Wynn. “He’s as tough a basketball player as there is. He’s just tough. He’s a tough kid. His quickness helps him out on a lot of that stuff. We were trying to set double staggers and picks. That kid just gets around them left and right.”
“And, very undersized to do it (stop House),” said Winemiller. “You can’t measure a kid’s heart though, and he’s got a huge one. He always wants to win. He’s always about the team more than anyone else. He’ll probably take this harder than anyone because it’s a loss, and that’s what bothers him the most.”
The loss was Benton’s first in SIRR Ohio Division play this year.
“We felt like we should have had it in regulation and missed some free throws,” Murphy said. “I couldn’t believe with House on the bench we were able to do that in overtime.”
Jaron Gaston led Murphysboro with 19 points while DeMari Greenwood had 14.
In addition to Wynn’s 21 points, Benton got 13 from Parker Williams.