Top seeds, minus one, advance at Eldorado
Benton is lone upset victim, WF, Carmi, Ham Co. look impressive

ELDORADO - The old saying 'the early bird catches the worm' was the perfect adage to describe the opening game of the 40th Annual Eldorado Holiday Tournament.

The Fighting Cardinals of NCOE plucked a victory out in front of a small, but stunned, crowd at Duff-Kingston Gym Monday morning over second-seeded Benton, 47-38.

The Rangers (6-3) were the only one of the top eight seeds not to advance to the championship side of the bracket on the first day of the event.

Coach Matt Wynn's club continued a shooting funk that they have been in since the second week of December as they fell into the consolation side of the bracket for the second straight season.

Using back door cuts to the basket, a patient attack and a confusing defensive scheme, NCOE frustrated the Rangers for the entire contest while improving to 4-7 on the season.

Although NCOE got just one player in double-figures for the game, the Cardinals had just enough offense to pull yet another upset this season.

The Cardinals handed Gallatin County its only loss of the season two weeks ago and brought down another highly regarded team on Monday.

"We just tell our kids to do the little things out there; play hard, box out, play good defense and good things will happen," said NCOE coach Doug Miller. "When you play Carmi and Gallatin County and tough teams like that it gets you ready for games like this. Benton basketball is about pressure defense and we prepared for it well the past week or so when we could practice. This is a big win for us."

Scoring on numerous attempts close to the basket, NCOE took advantage of the Rangers overplaying defense, especially late in the game when Benton was trailing.

But from the outset, the Rangers fell behind and played catch up for nearly the entire contest.

The Cardinals scored six of the games first seven points, with 6-foot-3 senior Travis Mitchell hitting a pair of early free throws along with lay in on a lob pass in the lane from Willie Moore to make it 4-0 NCOE just minutes into the game.

However Benton did have an early bright spot, with Seiger Shurtz hitting a pair of first quarter 3-pointers.

His second bomb with :56 remaining in the opening stanza made it 13-12 Rangers.

However Mitchell struck again on a baseline jumper followed by yet another lob pass as Andrew Simmons got in on the scoring with a short shot that beat the buzzer for a 16-14 Cardinal lead at the first horn.

The Rangers did nothing to help their cause in the second quarter, getting just three points from Jeremy Zazzetti in the frame on a tip in and 1-of-2 free throws.

In the meantime, NCOE stuck to their original game plan of making the Rangers pay with short open shots.

A shot in the lane by Michael Laughard and a driving one-handed shot by Dylan Bowman just before the horn sent the Cardinals flying into the locker room with a 25-17 advantage.

Coach Matt Wynn's Rangers made two second half runs with the first one coming to open the third quarter, scoring six-straight points.

Mason Satterfield, Zazzetti and Greg McClintock all scored in the first 1:26 of the second half.

After the McClintock score on a pass in the lane from Caleb Muir, the Rangers forced an NCOE timeout at 25-23 with 5:34 to go.

But the Cardinals ruled the 'roost' the remainder of the quarter, with Daugherty scoring twice during an 8-2 run leaving the score 34-25 heading into the final frame.

Benton managed to cut the margin down to four at 43-39 when Shurtz hit for his third 3-pointer of the game with :57 remaining.

However Simmons and Billy Phillips hit four straight while the Rangers missed five straight field goal attempts as time expired.

"We kept telling our kids that the longer we played with them, the more pressure would be on them because they were supposed to win," added Miller, whose team will face Fairfield on Tuesday, who was a 46-33 winner over Anna-Jonesboro in the tournaments second game of the day.

The Rangers had just two players hit for double-figures in the low scoring affair as McClintock and Shurtz hit for 11 and 10 points respectively.

'We didn't play very well this morning and we are very disappointed in our effort," said Coach Wynn.
NCOE got 11-points from Simmons while teammates Laughard, Daugherty and Mitchell chipped in nine, eight and eight.


Norris City-Omaha-Enfield (47) - Mitchell 3 0 2-2 8, Laughard 4 0 1-3 9, Simmons 4 0 3-3 11, Daugherty 3 0 2-6 8, Moore 1 0 2-4 4, Bowman 2 0 1-2 5 Phillips 0 0 2-2 2.
2FG-17, 3FG-0, FT-13-22, PF-16.
Benton (38) - Zazzetti 3 0 0-2 8, Muir 1 0 3-4 5, Satterfield 2 0 1-3 5, Shurtz 0 3 1-2 10, McClintock 4 0 3-7 11.
2FG-10, 3FG-3, FT-10-20, PF-21.
Fouled Out - Daugherty, Mitchell, NCOE; McClintock, Benton.
Technical Fouls - Daugherty, NCOE.

The third seeded Carmi Bulldogs took care of the other 'Dawgs in the pound on the opening day of the tourney, thanks to a game high 28-points from Keegan Dennis and 19-points from Tyler Choate as coach Wade Thomas' crew advanced to play Massac County.

CWC canned a phenomenal 26-of-29 free throw attempts, including 16-of-17 in the fourth quarter.

Harrisburg (1-7) received 25-points from Cliff Ford but no other Bulldog hit for double-figures in the loss.

The Patriots moved to the winner's side of the bracket, thanks to balanced 15-points from Michael Vanvleet, 14 from Josh Burnham and 11 from Landon Bremer.

Coach Joe Hosman's club, now 6-5, will play Carmi-White County Tuesday in an interesting second round match up.

Carrier Mills (4-3) were paced by Nathaniel Mitchell with 11-points while his brother Jeremiah added eight.

Behind a game-high 28 points from Koty Vanover the Foxes cruised past the Bobcats.

Vanover canned four 3-pointers in the third quarter as Hamilton County advanced to meet top-seed West Frankfort on the second day.

The Redbirds placed four players in double-figures in a workman-like victory over the Pirates Monday afternoon. Matt Weeks and Ryan Kirkpatrick scored 12-points each while Josh Webb added 11 in the rout.

Pope County (3-6) got 16-points from Bo Bramlet and 11-points from Michael Broadway in the loss.

After struggling to just a 24-21 halftime advantage, the Hawks flew passed the Pharaohs to advance to the quarterfinals of the winners bracket.

In easily the highest scoring game of the first day, the host Eagles advanced.

Rebounding from the morning upset, the Rangers regrouped with a solid win over an under-manned Wildcat crew who are missing three starters due to injury.