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Spartans knock off STM 67-33, Behrens and Vallee step up

On yet another frigid polar vortex evening in central Illinois, the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team quickly caught fire outscoring host St. Thomas More 16-9 in the opening quarter of their Illini Prairie Conference game on Tuesday. The Spartan bench proved they can bring just as much heat as the team's five starters after defeating the Sabers on road, 67-33.

Junior Abby Behrens, who was not among the starting five, led all scorers with a game-high 14 points thanks to a three-pointer in the second quarter and two more after the break in the third. She, along with two other players, Peyton Jones and Alyssa Hamilton, combined for 24 bench points.

"Abby is sneaky," said head coach Kevin Taylor on Behrens' ability to deceive opposing players. "She has a laid back attitude but has been playing really good on the ball defense and knows how to score on the offensive side as well. She can drive or shoot the open shot."

Meanwhile, starter Payton Vallee scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half to help give SJO a nine-point lead at halftime. Taylor was happy to see the senior step up and take the opportunity to lead.

"Vallee helps this team with her experience and leadership. She has been very reliable over the years," he said. "But (she) is also a very smart competitor on the floor."

The Sabers were paced by Emma Dovocelle's 13 points. Kennedy Ramshaw added 10 point effort and Bridget Delorenza's five points rounded out the host's top three scorers.

Taylor pointed out improvement on his squad's defensive effort on Tuesday.

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"The girls played better overall defense last night," he said. The Sabers boasted several players with the speed and agility to pose a serious threat in the Illini Prairie Conference game. "We knew they would be quick and would look to drive the lane while still shooting some threes.

"I think we settled in after making some early fouls and kept them from driving or shooting over the top of us."

Two things that has impressed Taylor so far this season is how well players are fairing under the current pandemic protocols.

"I am impressed with how the girls are adapting to the new rules. Mainly wearing a mask while playing," Taylor said. "But, what impresses me the most so far is the depth of this team. (We have) several girls (that) are contributing."

The Spartans are back on the floor of the Main Gym at home Thursday night against the Rantoul Eagles with Behrens and Vallee hoping to extend the team's undefeated record on more game. The JV contest is slated to begin at 5:30pm, varsity tipoff is at 7pm. Both games can be watch via live stream on the NFHS Network.

Box Score

St. Joseph-Ogden 16 9 14 13 - 52
St. Thomas More 9 5 7 10 - 31

St. Joseph-Ogden
Taylor Campbell 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Payton Jacob 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Taylor Wells 2 (0) 0-0 -- 4, Atleigh Hamilton 2 (0) 1-1 -- 5, Taylor Hug 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Abby Behrens 2 (3) 1-2 -- 14, Isabell Smith 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Peyton Jones 2 (1) 1-2 -- 8, Alyssa Hamilton 1 (0) 0-1 -- 2, Payton Vallee 6 (0) 0-2 -- 12, Ella Armstrong 1 (0) 2-4 -- 4.

St. Joseph-Ogden
C. Leibach 0 (0) 0-1 -- 0, T. Devriese 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, A. Dickerson 0 (0) 1-2 -- 1, B. Delorenza 1 (1) 0-0 -- 5, E. Devocelle 2 (2) 3-4 -- 13, M. Swisher 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, S. Gileas 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2, G. Kreps 0 (0) 0-2 -- 0, C. Monahan 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, K. Ramshaw 4 (0) 2-7 -- 10, E. Graham 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, C. Pembele 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

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