BENTON – Over the past 12 seasons, neither Benton nor Shullsburg had any success against the River Ridge girls’ basketball team. However, by combining their efforts this season, the Zephyr-Miners finally were able to taste victory over the Timberwolves.
Junior guard Blaire Lutes dropped in a game-high 24 points and sophomore guard Sarah Redfean netted 15 points to guide Benton/Shullsburg over River Ridge, 51-36, in Six Rivers West action at Benton High School on Thursday, Jan. 26.
“I have made a big deal about the losing streak since I took over. At times, possibly too big of a deal. This is a very special night for the schools, the fans and our program. To be able to get that burden off of our shoulders, is just really tremendous,” commented Benton/Shullsburg head coach Nathan Russell.
The Zephyr-Miners (7-7 overall, 1-3 in SRW) outscored the T’Wolves (6-7, 3-2) by a 22-17 margin in the middle two quarters to take a 36-31 lead into the fourth quarter, and then the hosts used a 15-5 run over the final eight minutes of play to seal the victory.
“The two biggest keys were protecting the ball and defensive rebounding. River Ridge pressed most of the fourth quarter and, I believe, we only had one turnover against it. Our rebounding really improved in the fourth quarter as well as we limited them to one and done on nearly every possession,” Russell said.
No Shullsburg team had beaten River Ridge since Feb. 10, 2000, and Coach Russell noted that it been at least that long– if not longer– since a Benton team had defeated the ‘Wolves.
“It was a really special night. Our entire roster really stepped up. Some of our players might not jump out when you look at the box score, but each and every one of them contributed tremendously towards this win,” stated Russell.
Redfearn pulled down nine rebounds, blocked eight shots, dished out three assists and had two steals; while Lutes chipped in with five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Haley Morrissey added six points, Molly Blackbourn pulled down seven boards and Stephanie Roberts had five rebounds and three steals for Benton/Shullsburg.
Traci Kirschbaum led River Ridge with 20 points.
“Our goals from the start of the year has been to compete for a conference championship. We have now put ourselves in position to have a chance, which is all we can ask after the way our conference season started,” Russell added.
At Benton, on Monday, Jan. 30, Potosi had five players score in double figures as the visiting Chieftains dampened the Benton/Shullsburg title hopes with a 70-55 decision in a Six Rivers West make-up game from Jan. 12.
Potosi (9-4, 4-1) took control of the game with a 19-6 scoring run in the second quarter and they never looked back as they outscored the co-op 39-36 in the final two quarters.
Sophomore guard Sarah Redfearn tallied 10 points in each half to finish with a game-high 20 points for the Zephyr-Miners, while senior center Molly Blackbourn netted nine of her season-high 11 points in the second half for the hosts.
Blaire Lutes added nine points, Jenna Droessler provided six and Emma Neis scored five for B/S.
Maleah Mumm led Potosi with 13 points, followed by Tiffany Langmeier and Haley Flesch with 12 apiece, Abby Ames with 11 and Ashley Flesch with 10.
Next up, Benton/Shullsburg hosts Highland in SRW game at Shullsburg on Friday, Feb. 3, and they head to Darlington for a non-conference game on Monday, Feb. 6, On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Zephyr-Miners host Cassville at Shullsburg in a make-up SRW game from Jan. 20.
River Ridge… 14 9 8 5 - 36
Bent/Shulls… 14 13 9 15 - 51
Leading Scorers: Blaire Lutes 24, Sarah Redfearn 15, Haley Morrissey 6, Emma Neis 2, Molly Blackbourn 2, Stephanie Roberts 2.
Potosi….……. 12 19 22 17 - 70
Bent/Shulls… 13 6 17 19 - 55
Leading Scorers: Sarah Redfearn 20, Molly Blackbourn 11, Blaire Lutes 9, Jenna Droessler 6, Emma Neis 5, Stephanie Roberts 2, Haley Morrissey 2.