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Opening loss will strenghten the Spartans, SJO falls 64-44 at home to Paris

Katie Cramer dribbles the ball in SJO's first home game of the season.
Senior Katie Cramer brings the ball down the court during first half action in her team's home opener against Paris.
(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

After grinding out four consecutive wins to start the season and bring home the GCMS/Bunnies Tipoff title last week, the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team suffered their first loss of the season. Outmatched, the Spartans fell 65-44 on their home court to the visiting Paris.

The Tigers came out feisty and visibly hungry for the win on Tuesday. The coaching staff had did their homework on the SJO squad. Paris head coach Dave Tingley had his team press the Spartans player from end to end on the floor forcing plethora of turnovers from the opening tip.

The defensive pressure was too much to handle for SJO. The Spartans mustered just five first quarter points and trailed midway into the second by 20 points until Taylor Wells found a basket after the relentless Tigers ran up the score with 11 unanswered points.

Payton Jacob drilled the next two shots to narrow St. Joseph-Ogden's deficit to 14 points. From that point forward, Kevin Taylor's team, though at a slight disadvantage without the veteran leadership of Hannah Dukeman on the floor, played competitive second half.

"We knew they would be after us the whole game and press us," said Taylor, now in his third season at the helm of the Lady Spartans. "There was never a time to let up against Paris."

While it wasn't enough to come out on top, the Spartans enjoyed scoring contributions from nine players.

Starter Taylor Barnes led the way with a team-high nine points. Sophomore starter Payton Jacob had six points. Alyssa Hamilton and Ashlyn Lannert came off the bench to score six apiece as well.

"We're young. We just didn't handle it the best way we could early on," Taylor said. "I hope the girls learn from it as we move on through the season."

Paris had four players finish with double figures against the Spartans.

Senior Karrington Krabel drained a game-high 16 points for the Tigers. Sarah Isaf and Jenna Gates, also senior members of the squad, scored 12 and 10 points, respectively. Sophomore Katelyn Littleton was 2-for-2 from the free throw line and had a pair of threes in her 10 point finish.

While it was an ugly loss, Taylor is confident that his team will become stronger because of it.

"It's a learning process. We're not set up to win a regional title," Taylor said. "I'm not satisfied with this game."

Nor should he be. After major second half adjustments and the shell shock wore off, SJO played a respectable second half barely outscored by the Tigers, 34-28. Starting two seniors, two sophomores and a junior there is some chemistry that needs to come together and much work to be done before the postseason.

"I saw some things that they improved on (tonight) and we'll work on more in practice as we move forward," he added.

St. Joseph-Ogden, now at 4-1 for the season, hosts Tuscola for a non-conference game on Monday before embarking on a three-game road campaign starting next week. Playing a game every other day, SJO starts with a trip to Danville on December 7, then plays a little closer to home on December 9 against Oakwood and finishes up tour at Mahomet-Seymour on December 11.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 5 11 15 13 - 44
Paris 16 15 20 14 - 65

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 6, Payton Jacob 6, Taylor Wells 5, Katie Cramer 4, Abby Behrens 3, Taylor Barnes 9, Alyssa Hamilton 6 and Payton Vallee 2.

Paris: Karrington Krabel 16, Sarah Isaf 12, Jenna Gates 10, Katelyn Littleton 10, Kendra Young 6, Madyson Rigdon 6, Deming Hawkins 3, and Kelsie Crampton 2.

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