BENTON
BY JACK BULLOCK
The Benton Rangers put together a school record-setting run last winter, culminating in a 3A sectional title game appearance.

Unfortunately the season ended on a sour note, but the rest of the season was very sweet as Coach Ron Winemiller and his troops went 31-3 and won their first ever SIRR Ohio Division championship as they ended up 9-1 in the league.

They won their own invitational tournament along with the Goreville early season event.

The Rangers lost a close one to Pinckneyville in the finals of the Duster Thomas Hoops Classic but returned the favor by defeating the Panthers in the finale at the BIT.

Graduation took away a lot of the kids that helped produce that extraordinary run this past spring and this coach and staff will have to move forward with some good ones returning.

The Rangers will have some good young guards and a few young forwards that will need to be ready when they head to Goreville to defend their title to open the campaign.

Five-foot-ten senior guard Gehrig Wynn was a big part of the Rangers' run last winter as was senior guard Cade Thomas.

Both of those kids are sons of coaches, so they have been around the game from the beginning.

Another of the senior guards that Coach Winemiller listed is 6-foot Hamilton Page.

Parker Williams, a 6-foot-2 senior guard/forward, and 5-foot-9 senior guard Mason Morris round out the seniors listed.

The junior class is where some of the height for the frontcourt will come from.

Six-foot-six Braxton Lutz and 6-foot-4 Noah Kays will be needed up front for Benton.

Grant Gordon, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard is out for the season after tearing his ACL during football season.

Coach Winemiller mentioned sophomore Carson Lewis, a 6-foot-3 guard, who will also be part of this club that will have a new look after three key seniors left the nest.

Derek Oxford, Austin Wills and Timmy Henson were a big part of the recent success story for this Rangers' program.

They will be missed.

“As we head into practice, I really like this team. For the most part our guys have a pretty good understanding of the role we will expect them to play and what we need them to do for us to be competitive,” said Coach Winemiller. “We won't be nearly as explosive offensively as we have been the last couple of years nor will be as deep. This team is going to have to play good defense and be very efficient on offense if we want to have a good season.”

OUTLOOK – This team might be a bit vulnerable early in the year but they will be in the race in this conference. There are some big shoes to fill but don't expect a free fall. Like most of the larger schools in the South that aren't part of the South Seven Conference, Benton is getting used to 3A basketball life. They showed everyone last season that they are capable of playing with the large schools that they will meet in the postseason.

2017-18 VARSITY SCHEDULE
N27-D2 Goreville Invitational Tournament J26 @ Herrin

D8

Herrin J27 Carterville
D12 @ Carmi-White County F2 West Frankfort
D15 @ West Frankfort F3 Benton "Rich Herrin Shootout"
D16 @ Nashville F9 @ Harrisburg
D21 Harrisburg F10 @ Metropolis Massac County
D29-30 Pinckneyville "Duster Thomas Classic" F16 Murphysboro
J5 Metropolis Massac County F20 @ Mt. Vernon
J12 @ Murphysboro F23 Salem
J15-20 Benton Invitational Tournament F26-M2 IHSA Regional TBD