When two of the top teams in the Southern Illinois River-To-River Conference Ohio Division square off one thing is certain -- Benton and Harrisburg will always be a fight.
The Bulldogs landed some body blows in the third quarter, getting to within seven points, but the Rangerettes (8-2, 3-0) believed the knockout blow, closing out the quarter on a 14-2 run in a 44-25 win Tuesday night at Rich Herrin Gymnasium.
"Harrisburg is scrappy and they gave us their best punch," Benton head coach Andy Sloan said. "We had a hard time getting away from them. They pressured us and we didn't always find the open man. I guess it's a good thing our defense was pretty good and it's a good thing they made as many mistakes as we did. Luckily, late in the third, we hit some big three's and got that thing out of reach and run the clock."
After taking a 5-4 lead after one quarter, Harrisburg went into the locker room down 10, 21-11.
Riley Harrison pulled the 'Dogs to within seven at 23-16 on an 3-point play with 5:01 to go in the third quarter.
From there, Benton closed out the third on a 14-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from Adi Krueger as the Rangerettes held a commanding 40-18 lead going into the game's final eight minutes.
Harrisburg head coach Jake Stewart noted the late run by Benton took the wind out of his team's sails after a strong start to the third quarter.
"This is the exact type of game I expected we would get. It was physical and rough and for us, we have to do a better job of staying out of foul trouble."
Ensley Tedeschi led all scorers with 15 points for Benton, including nine in the first half. Braelyn Miller added eight for the Rangerettes, six of which came in the second quarter. Krueger scored her six points in the the third quarter, while Ryleigh Bates and Jacey Eubanks each finished with five points. Malia Webb had four points and Blakely Johnson tossed in a free throw.
Harrisburg was led by Harrison's eight points, while Kailyn Moss scored seven points. Kinzleigh Smothers finished with four points, while Sidney Neal tacked on three points. Chelsea Davidson tossed in two points and McKenzie Boyd had a free throw.
Benton returns to the hardwood Thursday at Carbondale and will play at Nashville Saturday afternoon.
Harrisburg travels to Massac County Thursday to close out the week.
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.