GOREVILLE — For Anna-Jonesboro, the collective alarm clock went off after the first quarter.
After a sloppy, sleepy first eight minutes, the Wildcats pitched a 17-0 second quarter shutout Tuesday and went on to a 52-34 win over Hamilton County on the second night of the 8th Goreville Invitational Tournament.
Zach Overstreet’s game-high 13 points led three players in double figures for A-J (2-0), which also got 10 each from Blake Pena and reserve Ta’Kevon Williford.
“We talked about coming out and making them uncomfortable, and we didn’t do that in the first quarter,” Wildcats coach Mike Chamness said. “Second quarter, we got into them and made them make some decisions.
“We had to use our quickness to beat them. They have two big post players that are strong and good around the basket, so we had to use quickness to negate some of that. I thought we were really strong around the rim.”
A-J came in off a routine win over Hardin County on Monday night, and perhaps thought it could cruise through 32 minutes in this one. Chamness had to burn a timeout after 2 1/2 minutes – right after a 3-ball by Brady Thrane gave the Foxes a 5-2 edge – and remind the Wildcats showing up wouldn’t be enough.
“I had to jump into them a little bit,” he said, grinning.
His team spent the second quarter jumping into Hamilton County. It started with playing the passing lanes, forcing turnovers and getting into transition. It continued with seven offensive boards that led Foxes coach Doug Miller to lament at one point, “We haven’t boxed out yet.”
Miller used two timeouts during the second quarter, but neither one helped. Pena’s transition layup made it 22-9 with 2:26 left in the half, then stroked a 3-pointer to go along with a Williford bucket that made it 27-9 at intermission.
The margin reached 33-11 early in the third quarter before Hamilton County was able to make things respectable over the last quarter and a half. Six-four senior Gus Walden finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, but the Foxes made just 13 of 43 attempts from the field while committing 17 turnovers.
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A-J is hoping that its experience and improved depth can help it contend in a stacked SIRR Mississippi that includes Class 2A runnerup Nashville and a loaded Pinckneyville club. The Wildcats will get a better idea if they can do that Friday night at 8:30 p.m. when they meet Benton.
“We’ve got guys back from last year and I think we’re reaping the benefits,” Chamness said. “Benton will be a good test for our guys to see where we’re at.”
Benton 59, Johnston City 33
Their warmup shirts say Runnin’ Rangers, but they might want to change that to Defendin’ Rangers.
After holding Hamilton County to 38 points Monday night in an overtime win, Benton (2-0) didn’t allow the Indians to score for the first 7:50 of a runaway win.
Senior guard Brad Hammond scored eight points in an opening 12-0 spurt that shaped the game’s remainder. Johnston City (0-2) avoided a first quarter bagel on a putback by Caleb Newell.
Braden Watts pulled the Indians within 15-7 just before the midway point of the second quarter, but the Rangers weren’t going to let it get any closer. They expanded the margin to 25-11 at the half, and then established a 33-16 lead early in the third quarter.
Goreville and Hardin County played the late game Tuesday, and it ended after deadline.
The tourney resumes Friday with three games. Johnston City and Hardin County start it off at 5:30 p.m., followed by Hamilton County and Goreville at 7 p.m. before the Benton-A-J clash.