Spartans win consolation title at State Farm Classic

The St. Joseph-Ogden boys basketball team used a 10-point second quarter lead to say farewell to 2018 with a three-game win streak after crushing Bishop McNamara in the State Farm Classic consolation bracket championship contest on Friday evening, 61-52.

SJO closed out this year's tournament appearance winning three of their last four games and with a much needed confidence boost heading into the 2019 half of the season.

Coming off a 29-point performance hours earlier in his team's semifinal win over Winnebago, the Spartans were once again led by senior Jack Cook, who was 5-for-8 from the charity stripe and finished the game with 22 points.

Cook averaged 23.5 points per game tallying 94 points in SJO's four post-Christmas games. Over the three-day event he made 23 of his 30 free throw attempts.

The Fightin' Irish didn't take chance with putting Chance Izard, SJO's most prolific free throw shooter, on the line. However, the junior found his sweet spot on the floor hitting 3 three-pointers on his way to his third 13-point finish and led the Spartans in converting foul shots (7-8) to points during the State Farm Classic 87.5% of the time.

Senior Joel Orcutt also scored 11 points against McNamara and finished the tournament with a total of 49 points. He missed just two of his nine free throws attempt in four games.

The Spartans also enjoyed a stellar night from Payton Grimsley, who stepped up in the finale delivering 11 points courtesy of 3 treys and a pair of free throws.

McNamara was paced by Payton Gerberding with 16 points and Broghan O'Connor, who dropped 14 through the hole.

Spartan fans will have to wait until Saturday, January 5, to see their team in action again. SJO (10-6) will take the floor against Pleasant Plains at 8:30 during the Christie Clinic Shootout hosted at the high school.

Shootout action starts at noon with the Monticello Sages taking on the Watseka Warriors from the Sangamon Valley Conference.

Maclayne Taylor's buzzer beater advances SJO at State Farm Classic

A lot coaches stress how you finish is all that matters.

That turned out to be the case yesterday at the conclusion of the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball game against the Lady Panthers of Central-Southeastern (CSE), a coop between Central and Southeastern high school from west-central Illinois.

With less than 4 seconds left on the clock, Maclayne Taylor scooped up an inbound pass from Bree Trimble inside the free throw circle and took the last shot of the game. The ball bounced off the glass and through the rim as the buzzer sounded to give SJO a 51-50 overtime victory at the State Farm Classic on Thursday.

Four of Taylor's 6 points in the game were made in the extra quarter at Bloomington High School.

"I didn't know if we would get the ball back," said Spartan head coach Kevin Taylor as he witness CSE's Leah Turner tipped the ball away from his Maclayne, who is also his daughter. "It was a big relief when it went in."

Earlier in the game, the Spartans fought hard to finish the half with a one-point lead after a two-point deficit at the end of the opening quarter. By the end of the third quarter, SJO led 34-27. The 7-point lead would soon be erased and the two teams traded blows like championship UFC fighters to a draw at the end of regulation time.

"They are a well-discipline, well-coach team," Coach Taylor said praising Matt Long, the opposing coach with nearly 500 wins to his credit, and his team. "They ran good plays and good sets. They are well-organized."

In overtime, neither team could gain a clear advantage. CSE, the #8 seed, led 50-49 with less than 4 seconds to play. Taylor's quick reaction to recover the ball and put it in the air was the perfect finish.

"I hope the fire and momentum keeps going," said Coach Taylor. The Spartans advance to a semifinal showdown against Illini Prairie Conference foe Bloomington Central Catholic late this afternoon. "It doesn't get any easier."

SJO will also face the Saints again in league play in their final home contest of the season. That game will likely be for the IPC title. Meanwhile, the winner of today's contest will play for the small school title on Saturday. The loser will have a shot at third-place honors.

SJO's offensive effort was led by senior Peyton Crowe with 14 points. Trimble, who was scoreless in the first quarter, finished the game with 13 points. Hannah Dukeman rounded out the Spartans top three scorers with 8 points. Sophomore starter Payton Vallee matched Taylor with 6 points.

The Lady Panthers were led by Laney Lantz and her game-high 27 points. Alivia Lantz added another 11 points and Leah Turner chipped in 6 more.

CSE moves to the consolation bracket to face Rock Falls.

SJO boys bounce back at holiday tournament

After suffering a three-point loss the day before, the St. Joseph-Ogden boys basketball team bounce back to win their first bout in the consolation bracket at the State Farm Classic on Thursday. SJO defeated Peoria Lutheran 61-53 thanks to double digit production from three key players.

Jack Cook delivered another team-high performance with 16 points. Chance Izard and Joel Orcutt matched scores for a second straight day with 13 points each. Keanen Swansen added another 9 to round out the top three scorers. Payton Cain and Brayden Weaver came off the bench to chip in 8 and 2 points, respectively.

Izard was stellar from the line draining all four attempts.

The Crusaders were led by Gabe Meister with a game-high 18 points and Braden Tilson with 10. Tilson and teammate Josh Grindinger shot 100% from the free throw line. Tilson was 6-for-6, while Grindinger hit 2-for-2 in Friday's quarterfinal.

The Spartans advance to face Winnebago in the consolation semifinal on Friday at 2 p.m..

SJO sets State Farm Classic record

The St. Joseph-Ogden ladies made a stunning debut in their opening contest at this year's State Farm Classic basketball tournament. The #1 seed held Peoria Christian to just 10 points, not for just one quarter, but the entire game in a dominating 80-10 victory.

The win was the seventh best score, now tied with Rock Island from a game in 2016, recorded in the tournament's 40 year history.

"I think our team came out with energy and everyone was exited to start the tournament out in a positive way," said Spartan head coach Kevin Taylor. "I hope we care that energy over for our next game where we will see a very good team."

SJO took command early outscoring the Chargers 23-5 in the first quarter. They dialed up the pressure in the second to take a 41-point lead at the half.

Allowing Christian just 3 points total in the second half and buoyed by bench players, the Spartans added another 39 points to scoreboard. Ten of Taylor's 11 players contributed in the drubbing.

Bree Trimble led SJO with a game-high 21 points and was followed freshman Payton Jacob, who came off the bench to add 10 points. Parkland College recruit Peyton Crowe and junior Katie Cramer scored 8 points. Erin Miller, who was 2-2 from the free throw line, along with Taylor Barnes, Maclayne Taylor and Hannah Dukeman contributed 6 points each. Dukeman also shot 100% from the charity stripe.

The victory set a new tournament record making it the largest winning margin (70) in a girls game.

The Chargers, who fall to 0-13 on the season, were led in scoring by junior Tiffany Mallow with 5 points. Lydia Keehner finished with 4 points and Kaitlyn Johnson made one of two free throws to round out their team's scoring effort.

The Spartans advance to face Laney Lantz and Camp Point Central/Augusta SE on the championship side of the bracket. Lantz scored 21 point in their tournament opener against Oakwood. Tipoff is schedule for 4pm today at Bloomington High School

Last day to sign up for youth basketball program is Saturday

The St. Joseph Youth Basketball Program will be holding its final day of registration at St. Joseph Middle School this Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m.. The program is open to both male and female players.

Students in grades one through six enrolled in the St. Joseph Grade School District or the Prairieview-Ogden School District are eligible to sign up.

"I hope that they enjoy playing basketball and continue to work hard," said program director Larry Sparks. "I hope they have fun and like the experience that sports give them as they get older."

The 10-week Saturday program starts on January 12th and ends on March 16th. Student athletes will practice basketball fundamentals the first four weeks and then team up to play games for the final six sessions.

The cost is $40 and there will be a $5 late fee for any athlete registered after December 31. Deadline for late registration is January 12.

For more information contact Larry Sparks at (217) 202-5858.

SJO boys drop first game at State Farm basketball tournament

Senior Jack Cook's 27 points wasn't enough to keep the St. Joseph-Ogden's boys from suffering a heartbreaking 64-61 defeat to Rockford Lutheran at the State Farm Classic on Wednesday.

Chance Izard and Joel Orcutt each finished with 13 points. Keanen Swanson chipped in another six points and Brayden Weaver, who was 2-4 from the free throw line, was the only other Spartan to contribute with 6 points.

St. Joseph-Ogden's Jack Cook goes up for a shot around Westville's Brady Crain during the 2016 Leader Classic holiday basketball tournament. Cook led the Spartans with 27 points in the team's 2018 State Farm Classic tournament opener against Rockford Lutheran. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

The Crusaders were lead by Eric Nystrom with 27 points and Brock Guse with 15.

SJO moves to the consolation side of the bracket to face Peoria Christian at Normal West on Thursday.

1st annual Santa HO HO HO 5k Fun Run/Walk a success

ST. JOSEPH - On the way home from a marathon/half marathon race in Indianapolis, Max Painter and members of his running group lamented how the event was the last race they would run in 2018.

During the discussion fellow runner Brenda Hixon suggested the possibility of taking another road trip. Maybe to Chicago or running in Indy again at either city's Santa Hustle. The group of avid runner decided they would indeed run one more race before the end of the year.

However, the next morning Painter, a veteran who started running while serving in the Army, woke up with a better idea.

"Why don't we just do that here?"

Painter presented the idea to the group and it was a hit.

Combining efforts Hixon and Painter created the 1st Annual St. Joe Santa HO HO HO 5k Fun Run.

Runners start their run during the Ho Ho Ho 5k on Saturday. Over 300 runners took part in what may become an annual event in St. Joseph. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

As they planned the event, they expected, at best, a modest turn out of maybe 50 to 100 Santa-ly cladded runners making their way through the streets of St. Joseph. To their surprise and delight, registrations started rolling in and the field of runners and walkers quickly rose over 200.

"It exploded into this," Painter said while scanning the finish line as runners and walkers crossed the finish line to receive their medals from Mayor Tami Fruhling-Voges and other finish line volunteers. "We love it."

And by this, Painter meant the 325 participants and nearly that number of spectators, family members and well-wishers along the 5k course on Saturday.

Gregory Poe give two thumbs up as he crosses the finish line. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

The near freezing temperatures did not keep runners away.

"It wasn't too cold out there once you got running," said Dwayne Schlabach, who started running to stay in shape.

For Peyton Wendell the race one more opportunity to put on his holiday best, a royal blue two-pieces Christmas suit.

"My aunt bought it for me last year. I wore to school a few times and I thought this would a great time to wear it one last time," he said. "It (the run) was really fun. There were a whole bunch of people out there cheering for you."

Rhonda Littlefield, who crossed the finish line capturing her finish with her smartphone, enjoyed the race.

"I wanted to support the community and do something fun," she said echoing the sentiments of other runners as the sun peeked from behind the clouds through the crisp December air. "I didn't fall down and hurt an ankle so it's a great day. It was a lot of fun!"

Coming off a recent injury that limited his running, Gregory Poe was happy to be able to run and spend quality time with his two sons, Nick and Eric.

"I haven't been able to run for a while," he said. "I really enjoyed it and had a great time."

Hidden behind sunglasses and her Santa beard, Sara Meyer said she also enjoyed the atmosphere and holiday cheer along the course.

Sara Meyer poses for a photo with The Grinch after running in the Ho Ho Ho 5K. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

"I'm use to competing in more competitive races," she said before heading over to have her picture taken with someone dressed in Grinch costume. "It was something fun to do today and a great day for it."

Former St. Joseph-Ogden high school running star Chelsea Blaase was the first competitor and female runner to cross the finish line. Brandon Mattsey was the first male runner in and Kendrick Johnson was the first runner in the youth division to finish the inaugural race.

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