Benton methodically plowed through the State Farm Invitational field, winning three games by a combined 52 points, including a 48-26 over Quincy (Ill.) in the championship game Saturday night at Fleming Fieldhouse.
In the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic championship game, Memphis Lausanne (Tenn.) turned back St. Francis DeSales (Columbus, Ohio) 55-45.
Also on the boys side, Louisville Male (Ky.) raced past Helias 73-40 for third place, Rock Bridge squeezed past Jefferson City 55-54 in the fifth-place game, and Mexico strolled past the Jefferson City JV 65-34 for seventh.
In the other girls games, the Helias Lady Crusaders secured a 57-49 win over Eureka in the third-place bout, Louisville Male (Ky.) rallied past Lee's Summit West 50-44 in the fifth-place game, and Mexico dropped Jefferson City 58-46 for seventh.
The Lady Cardinals (7-1) use the old old-school approach of everybody touching the ball on the offensive end --- some of their possessions last longer than a Vegas marriage --- and playing stifling defense.
"We try to pride ourselves in guarding people," Benton coach Brett Goodwin said. "On offense, we share the ball well and like to get everybody involved.
"And we have really good guard play and when you have good guards, that really helps. We just don't try to do anything more than we're capable of doing."
Like the team, Goodwin is old-school and he's not afraid to talk to his players in a loud voice. But he's not always loud.
Sometimes, he's really loud.
An example: Benton had the ball and an eight-point lead to start the second half, when Goodwin saw something he didn't like --- 13 seconds after the break.
Timeout, a few choice words, followed by an empty possession, which prompted a foot-stomping, unhappy dance by Goodwin.
"My right foot is a little sore right now," Goodwin said with a laugh.
The Lady Cardinals led 10-5 over the Lady Devils (8-5) after one quarter and 22-14 at the half, before stretching the margin to 38-19 after three. Benton made 14 field goals --- seven 2-pointers, seven 3's.
State Farm MVP Mallory McAndrews hit four 3-pointers, all in the second half, and finished with a team-high 12 points.
"This is an easy job when you have kids that listen and try to do the right things," Goodwin said.
Helias 57, Eureka 49
The start of the game wasn't very good for the Lady Crusaders. The rest of the game, however, was.
"I think our kids were so jacked up at the start," Helias coach Doug Light said, "we just kept throwing it away."
But after getting knocked into a 7-0 hole in the opening minutes, the Lady Crusaders (7-3) went from throwing it away to putting away.
They got back within 16-12 at the end of the first frame, then took the lead for good, at 19-18, midway through the second.
"Once we calmed down, we were fine," Light said.
Despite some foul problems, Helias held a 25-21 lead over Eureka (6-4) at the half and 37-30 entering the fourth.
"When you think about the foul trouble we were in, that's just a great job, Light said. "We played 12 players in the first half, and every one of them contributed.
"These kids work hard and I like to give them opportunities to do stuff. So it was a big game for all of our kids."
While the bench helped, it was starter Bre Zanders who did most of the damage. Along with her dominant effort on the glass, the 5-11 senior sizzled the cords for 21 points.
"She really had a nice game," Light said. "She just keeps wanting to get better and better. She's a handful and she puts so much pressure on the defense, it opens up things for our other kids.
"Her presence is huge for us."
Kelsey Tepen led Eureka with 16 points, while Taylor Hagenoff backed up Zanders' big night with 17 points.
"You want to get third place, and it was going to be obvious real quick who wanted it most," Light said. "This is a great tournament and we wanted to end up with a win, and we did."
Louisville Male 50, Lee's Summit West 44
The Lady Titans held a 39-30 lead in the third quarter over the Lady Bulldogs, before the bottom dropped out.
Male (8-5) outscored West (2-6) 20-5 the rest of the way in the 15-point turnaround. Taylor Jackson dumped in 17 points for the Lady Bulldogs, who trailed 24-16 at the half and 39-33 entering the fourth.
For the Lady Titans, Taylor Jackson --- and yes, both teams have a Taylor Jackson --- scored 10 points.
Mexico 58, Jefferson City 46
A rough tournament had a rough finish for the Lady Jays, who fell to the Lady Bulldogs in the opener of the eight-game set Saturday morning.
The Lady Bulldogs (5-5) enjoyed leads of 19-11 after the first quarter, 36-27 at the break and 48-41 after three. Mexico, which received 17 points from Kelli Ingrum, outscored Jefferson City 10-5 in the fourth to seal the verdict.
Megan Foster led the Lady Jays (2-10) with 12 points.
For the first time in the history of these tournaments, both the Jays and Lady Jays went winless.
MACHENS GREAT 8 CLASSIC
Memphis Lausanne 55, St. Francis DeSales 45
The Lynx, the team from Memphis, had a lengthy huddle dance and celebration before the game, after the announcement of the starting lineups.
It's good to see folks who love what they do.
They had another celebration about 90 minutes later, as they captured the Machens championship in their first trip to Jefferson City.
After seeing an eight-point halftime lead shrink to one entering the fourth quarter, Lausanne (10-3) scored the first five points in the fourth quarter and held off DeSales (5-4) in the 10-point win.
The Lynx had leads of 14-10 after one quarter, 31-23 at the break and 39-38 lead entering the fourth. Tournament MVP Cameron Payne --- a sharp-shooting 6-2 senior who's headed to Murray State --- led the winners with 17 points. Sedale Scullark and James Babb, a 6-5 EIGHTH-grader, both scored 12.
For the Stallions, Darrien Scott netted 13 points and Oliver Grimard had 12.
A special shout-out to Jefferson City High School Activities Director Mike McGurk, who correctly predicted both tournament champions two weeks before the tournaments started.
Well played, Mike, and to all involved in this three-day venture.
Louisville Male 73, Helias 40
Like the Helias girls, the Crusaders got off to a slow start Saturday night.
But unlike the Helias girls, this one only got worse.
The Bulldogs (9-4) used a 10-2 burst in the first 90 seconds of the second half on their way to a 33-point rout of the Crusaders (4-6).
There's a reason for this outcome --- the Bulldogs are the better team. They are quick, they are athletic and they can shoot.
"That's the best team we've seen all season," Helias coach Josh Buffington said, "and we take pride in playing a tough schedule. When you can't get a defensive rebound, it takes a toll on you.
"They have such an explosive inside game ... they can get off the floor."
Helias was in the conversation in the first half, trailing just 29-20 at the break. But it unraveled after that.
"For us to be down only nine at halftime, we were pretty happy with where we were," Buffington said. "But the first four minutes of the second half were huge, big advantage to them, and that was the basketball game.
"We're having trouble executing right now against teams that can pressure us like that."
Josh Stoner buried 20 points for the Bulldogs and Steven Julian had 18, while Hale Hentges dropped in 15 for the Crusaders.
"We need to find some consistency in our execution on offense and defensively --- and I realize we're young --- but we've got to toughen up a little more," Buffington said.
"We'll learn from this. These guys will have to be ready to take some constructive criticism, because there are a lot of things we did not do well.
"As a result, we lost by 30."
Rock Bridge 55, Jefferson City 54
The family reunion was Friday night. This game, thankfully, was just about basketball.
"I was in the game a lot more today," Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon said. "Even if we would have lost, I would have taken this game over (Friday night).
"I'm worn out."
Friday night's game between Jim Scanlon, the dad, and his son and Mexico coach, Brennan, seemed to tug at the fabric of the family soul.
Tears and hugs for everyone.
There were no hugs or tears Saturday, as the Bruins and Jefferson City Jays engaged in what was the most entertaining game of the three-day, 23-game set.
Indeed, some fifth-place games are better than others.
"It was a good basketball game," Jays coach Blair Thompson said. "We came to play, we were ready and (the Bruins) were ready.
"As disappointed as I was the other day (in the Jays' 68-59 first-round loss to St. Francis DeSales), I'm that excited today. Our guys really paid attention to the game plan and executed it, both offensively and defensively."
The Bruins (4-5) led 13-12 after one quarter and 29-25 at the half, and didn't trail until Scott Stegeman hit two free throws with 1:43 left in the third to give the Jays (5-6) a 40-38 lead.
Stegeman, a 6-5 senior, finished with an impressive double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds.
"That's Scotty, he's just a battler," Thompson said. "He plays hard, he's scrappy. He's just a great guy to have on your team, he's a leader and he's intense."
As was this game.
The Jays led 44-40 after three quarters and were still clinging to a 51-49 lead with less than a minute left, before Ryan Kreklow banged home a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left to give the Bruins a one-point advantage.
Harold Robertson had an answer, however, as his 3-ball gave the Jays a 54-52 lead with 13 seconds left.
"We did what we could --- and what we could control --- to win the game," Thompson said.
But a three-point play by Nick Norton, who had 20 points, with 4 seconds left won it for the Bruins. But Norton's effort was nearly trumped by a buzzer-beating 20-footer by Ogugua Anunoboy. an effort that caromed off the rim.
"They played well; they have a good ball club," Scanlon said. "It felt like a championship game. Fortunately for us, we made a couple shots when we needed to."
In the one-point loss, the Jays missed three crucial free throws down the stretch.
"To beat a good team, you've got to make those," Thompson said. "Those were opportunities that were wasted, and those are important.
"It might sound like coach-speak and when you're 15 and you hear that stuff, you're like: 'Yeah, whatever.'
"But it came back and got us."
Mexico 65, Jefferson City JV 34
Jake Willer canned six 3-pointers and scored 18 points as the Bulldogs rolled past the JV Jays.
Jaeon Nunnelly added 15 points for Mexico (9-2), which led 39-20 at the half.
The JV Jays played two games in the tournament, filling in for the team from Arkansas. Little Rock Central couldn't make the trip, as it was snowed in Wednesday/Thursday.
JOE MACHENS GREAT 8 CLASSIC
At Fleming Fieldhouse
Louisville Male (Ky.) 58, Rock Bridge 57Memphis Lausanne (Tenn.) 65, Mexico 48St. Francis DeSales (Ohio) 68, Jefferson City 59Helias 73, Jefferson City JV 32
Winner's Bracket Semifinals
St. Francis DeSales 51, Helias 48
Memphis Lausanne 69, Louisville Male 61
Loser's Bracket Semifinals
Rock Bridge 74, Mexico 46
(Varsity Jays win by forfeit)
Championship, Memphis Lausanne 55, St. Francis DeSales 45
Third place, Louisville Male 73, Helias 40
Fifth place, Rock Bridge 55, Jefferson City 54
Seventh place, Mexcio 65, Jefferson City JV 34
STATE FARM INVITATIONAL
At Rackers Fieldhouse
St. Joseph 52, Mexico 34
Quincy (Ill.) 67, Jefferson City 54
Helias 49, Louisville Male (Ky.) 43
Eureka 58, Lee's Summit West 43
Winner's Bracket SemifinalsSt. Joseph Benton 48, Helias 36
Quincy (Ill.) 53, Eureka 43
Loser's Bracket Semifinals
Louisville Male 60, Mexico 51
Lee's Summit West 55, Jefferson City 45
At Fleming Fieldhouse
Championship, St. Joseph Benton 48, Quincy 26
Third place, Helias 57, Eureka 49
Fifth place, Louisville Male 50, Lee's Summit West 44
Seventh place, Mexcio 58, Jefferson City 46