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Showing posts with label Unity Basketball. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unity Basketball. Show all posts

Spartans remain undefeated, Kimball a major threat for the Rockets

In game three of the season, the St. Joseph-Ogden boys basketball team was poked and prodded like a patient with a unexplained, sudden lump on their side by a 16th century physician. Despite giving Unity ample opportunities to end their Illini Prairie Conference contest with a loss, the Spartans hung on to win the thriller at the Rocket Center, 58-51.

The Rockets got the first basket of the game and enjoyed their only lead of the conference contest for a brief moment. It lasted until SJO's Ty Pence took control of the ball in Unity territory, dribbled it down the floor past two defenders to score on a layup making the score 2-all.

SJO went on a scoring spree tallying seven more points for 11-2 run before the Rockets' Austin Langendorf drilled a pair of free throws that marked the start of a short rally for his team.

Blake Kimball, the game's leading scorer, and Nate Drennen scored on the next two possessions to close the scoring deficit to three, 11-8. Kimball, whose was 9-for-18 overall performance proved to be a sharp thorn in the Spartans' side, finished the night with 22 points.

"He got in the lane almost every possession," said St. Joseph-Ogden head coach Kiel Duval about the junior guard's play. "We have to keep guys out of the paint because it never leads to good things for us. Kimball did a great job using his body and change of pace to put us on our heels. He was tough on Friday."

Late in the third quarter the Spartans doubled their five-point, 25-19 lead at half to eleven. Unity whittled it down to nine before the start of the final period of play.

He will not back down and he wants to hit the big shot.
The Rockets did a solid job of neutralizing SJO's primary offensive weapon Ty Pence.

The sophomore, in two games, has established himself as the defensive focal point for future opponent after scoring 24 points in his team's road season opener at Rantoul and easily collecting 40 against visiting Oakwood earlier in the week. He was big on the boards, too, securing 39 of them across two games.

But Friday, Unity head coach Matt Reed wisely chose to double team him, a move that limited Pence's output - he had just six first half points - to finish with a season-low 20 points.

Reed's strategy however, created an opportunity for SJO's Evan Ingram to step out of the shadows. The team's second leading scorer with 12 points, Duval says the junior guard has what it takes to be a top notch basketball player.

"I have said it from the beginning, I think Evan will be a very good high school basketball player. He has all the tools," Duval explained. Ingram was 2-for-2 from the charity stripe and hit two of his six shots in three-point territory. "Evan doesn't shy away from the big moment. He never has. He doesn't care if he is facing the #1 team in the state, all-state player, or a guy that is six inches taller than him. He will not back down and he wants to hit the big shot."

The coach added: "Those tools are starting to come together one at a time and that is why he is performing this year."

After starting the final quarter down 38-31, the Rockets made a gutsy come-from-behind effort behind Kimball and his two teammates Nate Drennan and Brady Porter. The trio positioned the team within range to tie the game score five times.

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Unfortunately, SJO rebuffed each attempt mainly behind draining 13 of the 19 free throw opportunities in waning minutes of the game. Pence made six of his 11 free throws, including the last four of the game, while teammate Andrew Beyers went 4-for-4 and Ingram, who was successful on both of his opportunities at the line in the fourth quarter.

Drennan finished with 11 points for Unity, and chalked three steals and nine rebounds. Porter rounded out the Rockets' top three scorers with nine points.

Box Score

Unity 8 11 10 22 - 51
St. Joseph-Ogden 17 8 13 20 - 58

Kimball 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Cowan 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Hensch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rawdin 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rutledge 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Knoll 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Porter 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Drennan 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Page 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Langendorf 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Alt 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Jokisch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

St. Joseph-Ogden
Brazelton 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Costa 0 (2) 0-0 -- 6, Hutcherson 2 (0) 0-0 -- 6, Smith 0 (0) 1-2 -- 1, Burch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Grindley 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Wetzel 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rydell 3 (0) 2-5 -- 8, Beyers 1 (0) 5-5 -- 7, Atwood 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Pence 4 (1) 9-14 -- 20, Ingram 2 (2) 2-2 -- 12.

3rd quarter adjustment saves SJO from Unity upset

For a little more than 19 minutes of clock time, the St. Joseph-Ogden girls' basketball team's undefeated record was in jeapordy. Entering the game with a three-game win streak to start the season, the Spartans were, by all accounts, the pre-game favorite against the 1 win - 3 loss visiting Unity Rockets.

Taylor Wells takes aim during a free throw attempt in SJO's post-season game against Villa Grove-Heritage in 2020. Wells posted her first double-double of the year against the Rockets.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

With nearly half of the third quarter gone and a 19-17 score in the Rockets favor on the main scoreboard mounted on the gym's north wall, a three-point shot from Ella Armstrong gave SJO their first lead of the contest. The Spartans relenquished it briefly after Unity's Alysson England answered with field goal but regained the advantage with yet another trey from Armstrong on the way to a 47-29 Illini Prairie Conference win last Thursday.

For nearly two quarters Unity out-hustled and out-muscled their host. The three guards, Maddie Reed, Chloee Reed and Lauren Miller were busy bees forcing turnovers and ball control issues for SJO. Miller and Chloee Reed paired up, were credited with five steals.

"The girls came to play tonight," said Rockets' head coach Dave Ellars. "We had a couple days off due to the weather and I believe it helped our legs."

Unity played a solid first half preventing St. Joseph-Ogden from getting any offensive traction. Except for a 6-6 tie midway into the first quarter, the Rockets had the favored Spartans on the rope and kept them there until halftime.

"We did not play well in the first half," said SJO head coach Kevin Taylor concerning how his team started the game. "We were standing around too much against their zone and not moving the ball."

Taylor said he made a simple adjustment in his game plan for the second half.

"We switched up our offense to get more movement and we made an effort to get the ball inside where we had a big advantage in size," he said. "Our post play made really good decisions in the second half. Several times when we went to the post, they kicked it back out for an open shot."

We learned we can compete. I believe we will learn from this game.
The midgame tweak worked and allowed Armstrong score on three baskets for eight points pushing a four point deficit on the Rockets. Ashlyn Lannert extended the lead to nine points on a bucket and trey.

"SJO made a couple of adjustments and they made a few shots," Ellars said, explaining the shift in the game's momentum. "Due to SJO's size we wanted to try to help (our players) inside. She (Armstrong) made some shots in the second half."

Ellars was trying to keep the ball out of the hands of Taylor Wells. Wells finished the game with 12 rebounds and four assists.

"Taylor did a good job tonight using her size. She controlled the lane tonight with her defense and rebounding," Taylor said. "She also had several plays on offense where she found an open teammate when she was doubled-team in the post."

While she contributed just four points, Payton Jacob's presence on the court was crucial for the Spartans.

"Jacob always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. She had several key plays when we needed it tonight," he said about the junior starter. "There were a couple of key offensive rebounds and put backs that stood out to me."

St. Joseph-Ogden's top three scorers were Lannert and Wells with ten points apiece and Armstrong, whose four treys produced a game-high 16 points.

The Rockets offense was compiled by four players. Chloee Reed led the team with 10 points, England added in eight, Miller five and Maddie Reed chipped in three points. Miller led the team in rebounding with four. Miller and Chloee Reed had three apiece.

The loss withstanding, Ellars was happy with the way the team played.

"We learned we can compete," he said about his team. "I believe we will learn from this game. I was extremely pleased with our effort."

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It takes a gritty team to gut check and turnaround a game in the last 11 minutes, especially when you trailed the first two-thirds of it. On the floor, on the bench or in practice, it also takes a group of dedicated fourth-year players willing to do the little things.

"If this team has any mental toughness it is because of the seniors," Taylor said. "Whether they played a lot of mins or just a few, they all are doing a great job trying to lead this team and are doing all the little things that go unnoticed by most.

I can't thank them enough for what they are doing. They were a big part of why we were able to comeback and have that big swing in the score."

Box Score

Unity 16 3 3 7 - 29
St. Joseph-Ogden 9 6 15 14 - 44

C. Reed 2 (2) 0-3 -- 10, England 4 (0) 0-0 -- 8, Renfrow 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Miller 2 (0) 1-2 -- 5, Stringer 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Steinman 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, B. Henry 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, M. Reed 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Moore 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Alagna 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, T. Henry 0 (0) 0-4 -- 0, Flesch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

St. Joseph-Ogden
Lannert 2 (2) 0-0 -- 10, Walden 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Campbell 1 (0) 0-2 -- 2, Jacob 2 (0) 0-2 -- 4, Wells 5 (0) 0-0 -- 10, Hamilton 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2, Hug 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Behrens 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Smith 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Jones 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Hamilton 0 (0) 0-2 -- 0, Vallee 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Armstrong 2 (4) 0-0 -- 16.

Henry's rebounding effort not enough to save Rockets

Taylor Henry and the Unity girls basketball team suffered their second straight loss after a convincing win over Illinois Valley Central on February 8. Just a few days after picking up their first win of the season and despite another strong defensive rebounding effort while hosting the Knights of the Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond coop (ALAH), the Rockets dropped the non-conference game, 67-36.

Henry, a junior, tallied seven of the team's 18 rebounds and finished the game with seven points and one assist.

If was any consolation, the Rockets are just one of two teams to put up more than 35 points on the now 7-0 ALAH program this season.

Unity's scoring effort was spearheaded by Maddie Reed's nine points. The junior shooting guard found the rim three times out of six shots from three-point range. Her two buckets in the third quarter were the only field goals her team could muster when they could have used more.

Meanwhile, inside the arc sophomore Lauren Miller made 80% of her shots, going 4-for-5 to finish the game with eight points rounding out the top three shooters for the Rockets.

It didn't help Unity one bit that ALAH started the contest on fire. Their opponent dropped 16 points in the first quarter and tacked on another 20 in the second to Unity's first half total of 18 points, which was spread evenly across the two periods.

Knights' sophomore Charley Condill lead all scorers with 10 points at the intermission. She finished the game with 13 points, one of three players from her team in double figures.

In front of Condill in the scorebook was classmate Kailee Otto and her game-high 10 points. She went to finished with at game-high 16.

ALAH got another 10 points from Mackenzie Bowles to help sink the Rockets to a 1-4 record.

However, this week the Unity girls basketball team have two games on the schedule they can use to improve their record.

Tonight, the team welcomes 0-3 Olympia to the Rocket Center. Both games will be streamed on the NFHS Network. The JV contest begins at 5:30p and the varsity game at 7pm.

On Thursday, Henry and the Rockets will take a short bus ride to Monticello for another Illini Prairie Conference game. The Lady Sages dropped a 20-point decision last week to Tuscola, 58-38, and posted an IPC 58-39 win over Rantoul.

Box Score

Unity 9 9 8 10 - 36
ALAH 16 20 22 9 - 67

Reed 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2, England 2 (0) 1-2 -- 5, Renfrow 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Miller 4 (0) 0-1 -- 8, Stringer 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Steinman 2 (0) 1-2 -- 5, B. Henry 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Reed 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Moore 0 (3) 0-0 -- 9, Alagna 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, T. Henry 2 (0) 3-4 -- 7, Flesch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

Frederick 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Condill 3 (2) 1-4 -- 13, Nichols 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Brown 4 (0) 4-2 -- 9, Seay 2 (0) 0-0 -- 4, Beachy 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Seegmiller 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, A. Miller 3 (0) 0-1 -- 6, Otto 5 (2) 0-2 -- 16, Bowles 4 (0) 2-2 -- 10, S. Miller 1 (1) 1-1 -- 6.

Game night! Unity hosts undefeated Spartan basketball team

Tonight's Illini Prairie basketball game between St. Joseph-Ogden and Unity has the making of being epic David and Goliath storyline.

After missing the first week of the COVID shortened season, the Spartans head into tonight's game 2-0 behind their newest marquee player Ty Pence. The sophomore has scored 64 points this season in just two games and SJO has a few other sleepers, namely senior Cameron Costa and 6-foot-2 forward Andrew Beyers.

Meanwhile, the Rockets are finding their stride back at full strength with junior Blake Kimball and senior Brady Porter. In their last appearance at the Rocket Center the pair's combined double-digit effort put 41 points on the scoreboard in the team 74-64 loss to Pontiac a week ago today. With a little help from Damian Knoll and Austin Langendorf, 0-4 Unity could pick up their first win of the season.

The one thing missing tonight is the intense atmosphere of the Rocket Center - filled with gray, maroon and powder blue along with smell of fresh popcorn - packed with fans cheering on their favorite team. Players on the floor will have to feed on the energy from their bench and the limited number of fans allowed to attend.

Here are tonight's schedule and direct links to the live streams:

Unity Girls 7/8th Volleyball vs Mt. Zion | 4:30 PM Central

SJO Boys Junior Varsity Basketball @ Unity | 5:30 PM Central

SJO Boys Varsity Basketball @ Unity | 7:00 PM Central

If you are not already a subscriber, follow this link sign up for a monthly or annual subscription to watch SJO or Unity sports via live stream or archived by the NFHS Network. Monthly passes are just $10.99 each or save 47% and purchase an annual subscription at $69.99.

Porter, Kimball combine for 41 points against Pontiac

Blake Kimball led all scorers with 21 points in Unity's home game against Pontiac last Friday. His lights out shooting spree, which included three back-to-back treys, along with a 20-point performance from The Sentinel's first-ever basketball player of the week Brady Porter, was not enough to detour their team's 74-64 loss to the Indians.

Three players were responsible for the Rockets' 11 three-pointers during the game. Kimball heaved in four, Porter, who was the only player to reach double figures before the half, had five and Damian Knoll chipped another two.

Pontiac had three players in double figures.

Logan Barnett led the Indians' scoring with 20 points. The sophomore finished the contest 8-10 from the free throw line. Junior Alexander Trevino had a 17 point effort. Both players found themselves on the foul line often in the final quarter of play where Trevino hit four of his seven attempts and Barnett went 7-for-8.

Senior Matt Murphy rounded out the Pontiac's top three scorers with 11 points.

Tomorrow night the Rockets (0-4) host Ty Pence and the 2-0 St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans. In his last two games, Pence is averaging 32 points per game. He had a single-game career output scoring 40 against Oakwood last night and put 24 on the scoreboard against Rantoul on the previous Friday.

Unity will also honor its three seniors and their parents.

Fans unable to gain admittance can watch the varsity game at 8pm on the NFHS Network.

Box Score

Unity 13 13 11 27 - 64
Rantoul 20 13 20 21 - 74

Kimball 3 (4) 3-5 -- 21, Cowan 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Hensch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rawdin 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rutledge 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Knoll 2 (2) 0-0 -- 10, Porter 2 (5) 1-2 -- 20, Drennan 3 (0) 0-0 -- 6, Page 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Langendorf 3 (0) 1-3 -- 7, Alt 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Jokisch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

Bauman 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Friedman 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Adcock 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Murphy 1 (2) 3-5 -- 11, Bauknecht 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Gerdes 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Cramer 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Brummel 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Davis 1 (0) 6-7 -- 8, Monahan 1 (2) 0-0 -- 8, Trevino 2 (3) 4-8 -- 17, Barnett 6 (0) 8-10 -- 20, Kuska 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2, Cheek 1 (2) 0-0 -- 8, Brummel 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

Rival girls teams meet on the hardwood, SJO vs Unity tonight

The undefeated St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team host the Unity Rockets tonight with both a junior varsity and varsity contest tonight. Both games along with Unity Middle School boys basketball's home game against Marshall are available this evening on the NFHS Network.

Here are tonight's games and links to the live streams:

SJO Girls Junior varsity Basketball vs Unity | 5:25 PM Central

Unity Boys Middle School Basketball vs Marshall | 5:30 PM Central

Unity Girls Varsity Basketball @ SJO | 6:57 PM Central

If you are not already a subscriber, follow this link sign up for a monthly or annual subscription to watch SJO or Unity sports via live stream or archived by the NFHS Network. Monthly passes are just $10.99 each or save 47% and purchase an annual subscription at $69.99.

Photo of the Day - February 17, 2021

Rockets wins shootout by 11

Unity's Nate Cain fights for a rebound with Cissna Park-Crescent-Iroquois' Quinn Steffen (right) at the Shootout at the Hall in Champaign on December 16, 2007. The Rockets beat the Timberwolves, 46-35.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Prep Hoops | Porter delivers 15 points in Unity's third loss

Brady Porter and Dillon Rutledge drilled three treys apiece in Unity's home game against Illinois Valley Central (2-1) this past Tuesday. Their combine effort was not enough in the Rockets' eventual 59-43 loss.

A three-pointer from both players and another from Will Cowan left UHS with mere six-point deficit after a competitive 17-11 first quarter. Once again, the Rockets' were crippled by second quarter shooting woes, delivering just two field goals and a free throw to fall behind at the half, 32-18.

The period might have been more manageable if it wasn't for the plethora of foul calls against the Rockets. IVC took advantage of all six trips to the foul line, missing just two of the nine attempts offered. It more of the same in the second half. After the final buzzer, the Grey Ghost capitalized on 22 of their 32 shots from line.

Meanwhile, on the side of the scorer's table, the Rockets drew just six foul calls from the guys in stripes. Austin Langendorf made one of his four attempts while William Jokish finished the game 2-for-2.

Unity's effort was led by Porter who finished the night with 15 points. Rutledge chipped in three first half long range shots for nine points and Damian Knoll added eight points to the cause, all tacked on in the second half to round out the Rockets' top three shooters.

Mac Parmelee spearheaded the Illinois Valley Central offensive. The 6-foot-3 senior buried seven field goals and was 6-for-8 from the line good for 20 points in IVC's second win of the season. Stepping back to a supporting role, Holt Geltmaker was 7-for-8 from the free throw line and finished with 15 points.

Still in search of their first victory of the season, the 0-3 Rockets are on the road at Olympia on Tuesday.

Box Score

Unity 11 7 15 10 - 43
Illinois Valley Central 17 15 18 9 - 59


Kimball () - -- , Cowan 0 (2) 0-0 -- 6, Hensch 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2, Rawdin 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rutledge 0 (3) 0-0 -- 9, Knoll 1 (2) 0-0 -- 8, Porter 3 (3) 0-0 -- 15, Drennan () - -- , Page 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Langendorf 0 (0) 1-4 -- 1, Alt 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Jokisch 0 (0) 2-2 -- 2.

Illinois Valley Central

Hulson 0 (1) 2-2 -- 5, Parmelee 7 (0) 6-8 -- 20, Brooks 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Hulett 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Harms 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rainey 1 (0) 1-4 -- 3, Mercer 2 (0) 4-8 -- 8, Sawyer 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Wollard 3 (0) 0-0 -- 6, Geltmaker 4 (0) 7-8 -- 15, McNaught 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, McCoy 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Edlman 0 (0) 2-2 -- 2.


Reed leads Rocket ladies in road loss at Pontiac

Last night, Unity's lone senior scored 11 second half points against Pontiac. Despite Chloee Reed's best effort and that of the entire team to pull off a come from behind victory, the Rockets' girls basketball team dropped their conference road game against the Indians, 43-34.

Unity girls basketball falls at Pontiac
Pontiac was paced by Addison Masding, who scored her 1,000th career point two days earlier against Bloomington Central Catholic. The senior started the game with 12 first half points, six in each quarter, forcing Unity to claw their way back from an early deficit. Combined with Tristina Henry's 12-point contribution, the pair was responsible for 29 of their team's 43 points after the final buzzer.

"We outscored them in the 2nd half," said Unity head coach Dave Ellars. He plans to focus on shooting in upcoming practices and is confident his team will continue to improve with practice. The additional focus on shooting will be beneficial moving forward. "With Covid, kids weren’t allow to shoot as much during the summer or our normal contact days."

Reed went on to finish the Illini Prairie Conference contest with a 14 point effort thanks to her four three pointers.

"Chloee is a good leader," said Ellars, who counts on her experience to guide less experienced players. "She has been involved in close games and learned last year what it takes to win."

While she only contributed three points in the loss, Taylor Henry was huge in the paint for Unity on Thursday. The junior forward hauled in a team-high nine rebounds.

"Taylor is a winner, does all the things that aren’t in the scorebook," Ellars explained. "Most of the time the girl she guards is 4-5 inches taller, she has a big heart and is always up for the challenge."

Unity also received point contributions from Katy Moore with six points along with Lauren Miller and Erika Steinman, who provided four points apiece. Maddie Reed and Taylor Henry rounded out the Rockets' effort with 3 points each as the Rockets drop to 1-2 on the season.

Unity will host Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond, better known as ALAH on Saturday morning. The JV game is scheduled to start at 9:30am followed by varsity getting underway at 10:30am.

All things considered, Ellars said his program is excited with the opportunity to play right now. With the constant uncertainities as Illinois athletics navigate the pandemic. "We treat every day as it could be our last game."

Box Score

Unity 7 7 10 10 - 34
Pontiac 12 17 9 5 - 42

C. Reed 1 (4) 0-0 -- 14, England 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Renfrow 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Miller 2 (0) 0-0 -- 4, Stringer 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Steinman 2 (0) 0-0 -- 4, B. Henry 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, M. Reed 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Moore 2 (0) 2-2 -- 6, Alagna 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, T. Henry 2 (0) 1-2 -- 3, Flesch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

T. Einhaus 2 (2) 2-4 -- 12, J. Einhaus 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Fisher 1 (0) 2-3 -- 5, Hartfield 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Collins 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Fox 0 (1) 1-2 -- 4, B. Masding 1 (0) 1-2 -- 3, Coates 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, A. Masding 6 (1) 2-5 -- 17, Fletcher 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Hillary 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Pickett 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Johns 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

Prep Hoops | Scoring drought sinks Rockets in second game of the season

Unity's home game against Paris last Friday was a textbook case of a tale of every other quarter.

After a solid first quarter of play and leading on the scoreboard 12-10, missed second quarter scoring opportunities led to an eventual 67-33 loss in non-conference action with the visiting Tigers.

Damian Knoll tied the game at 7-all midway into the first quarter and Will Cowan scored the go-ahead tip in to give Unity a two-point advantage early in the game. A couple of exchanges later, Cowan drilled a trey from the southeast corner of the floor for a 12-7 Rocket lead.

With it much too early to roll over and lie, Paris' Zach Farnham answers with three pointer for his team to close out the quarter trailing, 12-10.

Paris quickly tied the game at twelves in the second quarter on a shot from Jude Sullivan and then the Rockets' shoot woes surfaced. The Tigers outscored Unity, who made just one of the 13 shots in the frame, 23-4. Paris, on the other hand, sunk eight of their 13 attempts in the same period.

After a respectable third quarter effort yielding 13 points, Unity mustered just four in the final quarter of the contest. 

Three players had seven opportunities from the free throw line, to their team's detriment went unconverted.

Despite the team's overall shooting deficiency, Brady Porter led Unity's scoring effort with 13 points. Cowan and Austin Langendorf chipped in another five points apiece.

Three seniors did the bulk of the heavy shooting for the Tigers. Sullivan, who scored the majority of his points in the second and third quarters of the game, finished the night with a game-high 17 points. Garrett King contributed 12 points and Mason Hutchings rounded out the top scorers on the visiting team with 8 points.

The Rockets play at home again on Friday night hosting Pontiac for another Illini Prairie Conference game this week. The varsity game is scheduled to start 7pm. Fans can catch the game on the NFHS Network.

Box Score

Unity 12 4 13 4 - 33
Paris 10 23 24 10 - 67

Cowan 1 (1) 0-0 -- 5, Hensch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rawdin 0 (0) 0-1 -- 0, Rutledge 0 (0) 0-1 -- 0, Knoll 1 (2) 0-0 -- 8, Porter 3 (2) 1-6 -- 13, Page 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Langendorf 1 (0) 3-6 -- 5, Alt 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Jokisch 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2.

Allen 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Hutchings 2 (1) 1-1 -- 8, Farnham 0 (3) 0-0 -- 9, King 1 (2) 4-4 -- 12, Porter 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2, Breneman 4 (0) 2-5 -- 10, Rhoads 2 (0) 1-2 -- 5, Mills 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Sullivan 5 (1) 4-4 -- 17, Nugent 0 (0) 1-2 -- 1, Brinkerhoff 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0.

Langendorf leads Rockets in season opening loss to Trojans

Unity Basketball After long, dramatic hiatus due to the state's attempt to keep the number of positive cases at manageable level for hospitals around the state, the Unity boys basketball program was finally back in action last week and the squad has a few moving parts to oil.

Despite their best effort, the Rockets dropped the road contest against Maroa-Forsyth in unsatisfying 58-36 loss.

"We did not shoot well last night," said head coach Matt Reed after the game. The Rockets were just made just seven of their 20 attempts from the free throw line. "Our top three offensive weapons, coming into the season, went a combined 5-29 from the field. Tough to win on the road with that kind of shooting."

Maroa-Forsyth led 19-8 after the first quarter and allowed Unity just six second quarter points to close out the first half with a comfortable 32-14 lead. The Trojans kept their foot on the gas until the final quarter behind the efforts of Riley Jackson and Egan Franzen, both who were in double figures at the half to pace their program's victory last Tuesday.

Unity was led by sophomore Austin Langendorf with 8 points. Junior guard Blake Kimball had seven, Brady Porter scored six and Dillon Rutledge finished with five points.

Only five of the Rockets' 30 shots from beyond the arc found their way through the hoop.

Normally, the program would be preparing for a deep playoff run in the IHSA postseason but this season's pandemic restricted six-week schedule Reed said he has a different focus.

"We are looking to continue to develop our players for next season, while also giving the seniors the best possible basketball experience they can have."

Unity (0-2), after a loss to Paris on three days ago, will host two home games this week in search of their first pair of wins this season.

Tomorrow night, Illinois Valley Central (1-1) will ride into town. Last week the Grey Ghost knocked off Peoria Christian 67-62 with impressive point productions from seniors Holt Geltmaker, a University of Illinois baseball commit, with 17 points and Kam Wollard, who contributed another 14 points.

At the end of the week on Friday, the Rockets invited Pontiac to the Rocket Center for their second Illini Prairie matchup this week. Varsity tipoff is scheduled for 7pm.

Unity 8 6 11 11 - 36
Maroa-Forsyth 19 13 18 8 - 58

Kimball 3 (0) 1-6 - 7, Cowan 4 (0) 0-0 - 4, Hensch 0 (0) 1-4 - 1, Rutledge 1 (1) 0-0 - 5, Knoll 0 (0) 1-2 - 1, Porter 0 (2) 0-0 - 6, Drennan 0 (0) 1-2 - 1, Price 0 (1) 0-0 - 3, Langendorf 1 (1) 3-6 - 8, Alt 0 (0) 0-0 - 0, Jokisch 0 (0) 0-0 - 0.

Jostes 0 (0) 0-1 - 0, Gilbert 3 (1) 0-0 - 9, Jackson 3(3) 2-3 - 17, Franzen 5 (0) 5-7 - 15, Bellazhi 1 (0) 2-2 - 4, Blunck 2 (0) 0-0 - 4, Ohlemeyer 2 (0) 1-2 - 5.

Unity basketball tips off tonight

Unity's Blake Kimball brings the ball down the floor
Unity's Blake Kimball dribbles the ball down the floor during first half action in last year's home game against St. Joseph-Ogden. The Rockets will host the Spartans on February 19.

Photo: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks

The Unity varsity boys basketball team open their 2021 season on the road tonight at Maroa-Forsyth.

Under normal circumstances due to the COVID-19 state health department protocols, spectator capacity is limited to just 25 spectators for the away team. However, Rocket fans can catch tonight's game on the NFHS network from the comfort of their home at 7pm. The junior varsity contest at 5:30pm will also be streamed.

The cost to watch NFHS Network streaming events start a monthly subscription cost of $10.99 per month. Fans can save almost half of the year fee by purchasing an annual subscription at $69.99. The NFHS will donate a portion of the annual subscription fee to the school you select when you sign up. Schedule and times for all Unity high school and middle school basketball games can be found here.

The Rockets will host seven opponents on their 13-game schedule this season. Here is the current schedule for the 2021.

2021 Unity Boys Basketball Schedule

02/02/2021     Tue • 7:00 PM     @ Maroa Forsyth High School
02/05/2021     Fri • 7:00 PM     vs. Paris High School
02/09/2021     Tue • 7:00 PM     vs. IVC High School
02/12/2021     Fri • 7:00 PM     vs. Pontiac High School
02/16/2021     Tue • 7:00 PM     @ Prairie Central High School
02/19/2021     Fri • 7:00 PM     vs. St. Joseph-Ogden High School
02/20/2021     Sat • 3:30 PM     @ PBL High School
02/23/2021     Tue • 7:00 PM     @ Olympia High School
02/26/2021     Fri • 7:00 PM     vs. Monticello High School
03/02/2021     Tue • 7:00 PM     @ St. Thomas More High School
03/05/2021     Fri • 7:00 PM     vs. Rantoul High School
03/06/2021     Sat • 4:30 PM     vs. Tuscola High School
03/09/2021     Tue • 7:00 PM     @ Central Catholic High School

Photo of the Day - January 22, 2021

Spartans defeat Rockets at home

Chance Izard attempts to dribble around Jared Routh
St. Joseph-Ogden's Chance Izard attempts to dribble around Unity's Jared Routh during the Spartans' home game in 2019. Izard contributed ten points, seven in coming the second half, in SJO's 48-37 win over the Rockets in Illini Prairie Conference action on January 22. Routh finished the contest with seven points in the low scoring affair.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media
Clark Brooks)

Photo of the Day - December 27, 2020

Unity's Skyler Shepherd dribbles the ball to the paint against SJO
Unity falls in OT loss to SJO

Unity three-sport athlete Skyler Shepherd dribbles around St. Joseph-Ogden's Jake Pence during the Rockets home game on February 5, 2016. The Spartans in prevailed in an overtime thriller defeating the Rockets, 76-67.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Photo of the Day - December 13, 2020

Unity student fan section cheers for the team in 2016

Fantastic fans keep Unity fired up

Members of the Unity High School student fan section cheer for the team during their basketball team's home game against St. Joseph-Ogden of February 5, 2016. Unity kept the Spartans on the ropes for the first four quarters only to eventually fall in overtime by nine points, 76-67. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Photo of the Day - December 5, 2020

Rocket's Seth Gooch and Spartans' Evan Brummet
NBA Style
Rocket's Seth Gooch and Spartans' Visar Arslani battle for possession of a loose ball during fourth quarter action of their non-conference game played at Indianapolis' Conseco Fieldhouse. Now called Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the two Illinois rival programs took advantage of the opportunity to play in the NBA arena back on December 7, 2008. Unity went on to defeat St. Joseph-Ogden, 53-49. [Photo: PhotoNews/Clark Brooks]

Photo of the Day - November 24, 2020

Unity senior Karson Ewerks
Rockets stall in road trip at Rantoul
Surrounded by opposing players under the basket, Unity's Karson Ewerks looses control of the ball thanks to Rantoul's KeJuan Carodine behind him while going up for a put back in the paint during their Illini Prairie Conference road game earlier this year. The team's second leading scorer in the contest, Ewerks, a senior, finished the night contributing nine points in the 49-37 loss on January 21. Unity finished the 2019-20 season with a 1-8 conference record while Eagles' wrapped it up one step above with two wins, seven losses in the Illini Prairie Conference.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

The wait is over, winter high school sports season officially on hold

The Illinois High School Association met once again in a virtual meeting to discuss how to proceed as the state enters Tier 3 of the Governor JB Pritzker's Resurgence Mitigation plan. Thousands of Illinois high school athletes will have to wait just a little longer to make to break a school record, make three-point shots or earn that 15 second pin on the wrestling mat this winter.

Earlier today the prep sports association announced that all IHSA sports and activities will cease as of Friday, November 20, until the state's COVID-19 positivity returns to a level safe enough that the governor will return the state to Tier 1 of its pandemic response plan.

Below is the complete release from the IHSA.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for a special virtual meeting on Thursday, November 19, 2020, where the Board provided an update on winter sports.

To maintain compliance with the most recent mitigations issued by Governor Pritzker that take effect on November 20, the IHSA Board issued guidance to pause all IHSA winter sports and activities by November 20.

"All IHSA sports and activities will cease by November 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the Governor’s mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible."

Ella Armstrong lines up a free throw shot earlier this year
St. Joseph-Ogden's Ella Armstrong lines up a shot from the free throw line back in February against Tuscola. Armstrong and the Spartans will not be piling up wins until maybe sometime in 2021.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The Board will revisit the status of winter sports at their update discussion on December 2, and again at their regularly scheduled meeting on December 14 if necessary.

"Taking into account the current state mitigations, the Board believes that early to mid-December will be the most reasonable target to review the status of winter IHSA sports and activities," said Anderson. "The Board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches. However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state. Despite the obstacles this unprecedented school year has presented, the Board’s vision to provide participation opportunities in all IHSA sports has not wavered."

The Board was steadfast in their desire to remind all athletes and athletic programs that adhering to the mitigations is vital to the hopes of safely playing high school sports in Illinois as soon as possible.

"I believe there is a misconception that IHSA and non-school athletic programs have an adversarial relationship," said Anderson. "In my time at the IHSA, I have not found that to be the case at all. More so, I think there is a mutual respect for the opportunities that each provide for athletes. IHSA schools have been exemplary in adhering to state regulations throughout this pandemic and we are calling upon non-school programs to hold themselves to that same standard. As school and non-school sports temporarily cease in Illinois, and throughout the Midwest, it is a great reminder that putting the health and safety of our fellow citizens at the forefront in the short-term will allow all levels of athletics to thrive in the long-term."

The Board provided the following participation clarifications to member schools:

Winter Season Start Date: Given the timing of the Governor’s new mitigations, November 16 will not be recognized as the start date of the winter season, regardless of whether winter sport teams conducted any official tryouts or practices. A new start date will be established for each sport once winter sports can be conducted again.

Conditioning & Weight Training: Conditioning and weight training before and after school are paused. Local schools will decide if conditioning and weight training programs that are a part of their academic curriculums continue or are ceased.

Open Gyms: Are paused and cannot be conducted at this time.

Outdoor Workouts: Outdoor workouts may be conducted in any sport in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing. Coaches are counted toward the 10. Use of sport-specific equipment is allowable with proper sanitizing practices.

One-on-One Skill Work: Per Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations and with school approval, one-on-one skill work between a coach and student-athlete is permitted for winter sports only, but is limited to one coach and one student-athlete per facility.

Activities: Practices and competitions may only be conducted virtually.

Non-School Participation: All sports organizations in the state, school or non-school, have been directed to abide by the Governor’s mitigations. IHSA coaches cannot organize non-school participation in any fashion. IHSA by-law 3.100 will be in effect once winter sport seasons begin following this pause.

Photo of the Day - November 15, 2020

Unity's Jon Decker dribbles around Jack Cook

Rockets fall in OVC battle at home

Unity's Jon Decker attempts to dribble his way into the paint past St. Joseph-Ogden's Jack Cook in their conference rival game on January 6, 2017. After a 15-all first quarter start, the Rockets fell at home to the Spartans by 30 points, 79-49.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Photo of the Day - October 9, 2020

Two-sport athlete Ryan Barnes
Barnes, Spartan hoops off to a good start
St. Joseph-Ogden's Ryan Barnes tries to make a save on ball headed out of bounds with a pass under the basket on the baseline. Barnes and the Spartans knocked off the Rockets 54-37 in their early season game on December 6, 2005, to earn their second win of the season. The two teams met again later in the season at the Rocket Center in Tolono on February 17 in their two-game series.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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