Spartans slip in shootout stumble

Starting the year with a three-game win streak under their belt after their first-round loss at the State Farm Classic on December 16, it looked like the St. Joseph-Ogden varsity boys squad was now ready to play Sweet Sixteen or better level basketball.

Instead, the team was the recipients a painful wake up call in the form of a gut-wrenching 63-38 loss to Pleasant Plains at the Christie Clinic Shoot on Saturday.
St. Joseph-Ogden's Jack Cook goes up for a shot in the Christie Clinic Shootout game against Pleasant Plains. The senior finished with just 8 points and made all four of his free throw attempts. The Spartans, who shot just 30% from the field, fell 63-38 to the Cardinals on Saturday. See more photos from the game here: SJO vs Pleasant Plains photo gallery. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

It was the second 20-plus-point loss the team has suffered this season. Both losses, including the title game defeat dealt by Class 1A state-ranked Cissna Park at the SJO-Toyota of Danville Classic, were on the Spartans' home court.

Pleasant Plains was the first to draw blood, putting the ball in the basket for the first field goal just a minute after the opening tip. SJO (10-7) then tied the game up at 2-all a minute and half into the first quarter. That would be the closest the Spartans would come to tasting a lead for the remaining duration of the contest.

The Cardinals drained their next bucket 20 seconds later to go up 4-2 and never needed to look over their shoulder from that point on.

The Spartans could not get the ball through the rim. Slashing to the paint didn't work. Perimeter shooting wasn't much better. Nothing seemed to click.

It wasn't from a lack of effort. It was one of those night were shots just don't fall.

In the 43 shots SJO put up in the direction of the basket during their 32 minutes on the floor, they converted just 13 of them to points. Seniors Joel Orcutt, Keanen Swanson and Jack Cook, the team's leading inside guys, struggled shooting. Together, they combined for a mere 6-for-16 effort.

Meanwhile, Pleasant Plains made just two more attempts than SJO on shots from the field. Led by Justin Guernsey's game-high 20 points, their accuracy was a tad bit better. Joel Niermann (12 pts) and Nick Savage (10 pts). Savage and teammate Chase Schmitt hauled down 7 boards a piece.

The Cardinals scored on 58% of their 45 shots.

The Cardinals' size and confidence led to the Spartans being out-rebounded 27-11.

Junior Chance Izard led SJO with a team-high 11 points.

Cook finished 8 points and Orcutt scratched out 6 in the non-conference loss. Swanson, who led the team with 3 rebounds, was held to just 2 points. Orcutt and and Payton Cain rounded out the top three rebounders with 2 each.

Izard and the Spartans hope to right the ship this week when they face Heritage-Villa Grove Tuesday night and the Wooden Shoes of Teutopolis on Friday. Both games are at the high school. The team closes out the week with a road game at Paxton-Buckley-Loda. Varsity tipoff is slated for 4:30p.
St. Joseph-Ogden High School 2024 baseball seniors