Okawville beats Benton in Nashville opener

Russell Conwell
Darren Kinnard

NASHVILLE – The 15th Annual Nashville Girls Thanksgiving Tournament has a different look this year with large school and small school divisions. Collinsville, Freeburg, Mascoutah, and Mt. Vernon make up the large school pool (Pool A) with Benton, Okawville, and Wesclin joining the host Hornettes in the small school pool (Pool B).

Benton faced Okawville in the Pool B opener. The Lady Rockets got off to a great start, scoring the game’s first 10 points, but the Rangerettes rattled off the next nine points to pull within one. Okawville then scored the final four points of the quarter to lead 14-9 after one.

The game stayed tight in the second quarter until the Lady Rockets closed the half with another run. Leading 19-16, Alayna Kraus hit a three-pointer for a 22-16 lead. Then with 15 seconds left in the half, Kraus found Briley Rhodes for a layup and foul. Rhodes’ three-point play was part of a 10-0 run for a 29-16 Okawville lead at the half.

After the Lady Rockets scored the first basket of the third quarter, the Rangerettes tried to mount a rally, going on an 8-1 run to bring the score to 32-24. Kraus then found Caroline Tepe for a baseline layup to push the lead back to double-digits. The Lady Rockets led 40-26 after three quarters.

Both teams were quiet offensively in the fourth quarter as the Lady Rockets made Haylee Bowers a winner in her first game as head coach of the team. The final was 43-28, as Benton falls to 1-1.

Kraus led all scorers with 20 points. Tedeschi led Benton with 13 points.

In Pool A Monday, Mascoutah outscored Mt. Vernon 78-64 behind Sophia Loden’s monster game of 39 points and 20 rebounds. Justice Malone poured in 25 in a losing effort for the Lady Rams. Freeburg beat Collinsville 58-44 in the Pool A opener.