Photos Today: Spartans pick up 20th win

SJO head coach Kevin Taylor was able to put every player on his varsity squad on the floor Monday night in his team's home conference game against Rantoul.

"It helps when someone get hot early like Peyton Crowe," he said. "Then we can spread the floor out."

The St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team picked up their 20th win of the season behind Crowe's 20-point game-high performance. Seven other SJO player also contributed offensively and everyone had a hand in smothering the Eagles shots in the 63-24 victory.

Here's seven photos from Monday's milestone win for the Spartans. Follow this link to see more photos from the game in the SJO vs Rantoul gallery.

Ella Armstrong goes up for a shot against Rantoul
St. Joseph-Ogden's Ella Armstrong goes up for a shot in front of Rantoul's Myejoi Williams during in the second half. The Spartans defeated the visiting Eagles to pick up their 20th win of the season with a 63-24 win on Monday. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

SJO's Maclayne Taylor dribbles the ball away from Rantoul's Emma Mihaly
Maclayne Taylor dribbles the ball away from Rantoul's Emma Mihaly during first half action of their home game on Monday. Taylor finished the game with 7 points. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Ashlyn Lannert dribbles the ball down the court
Spartan Ashlyn Lannert dribbles the ball down the court in their home game against Rantoul. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Angela Palmer looks for an open teammate
Keeping the ball away from Rantoul's Litzy Hernandez, St. Joseph-Ogden's Angela Palmer looks for an open teammate to pass the ball during second half action. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Maclayne Taylor guards Rantoul's Jada Mosley
Maclayne Taylor guards Rantoul's Jada Mosley during their Illini Prairie Conference game. Taylor finished with 7 points on the night. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Payton Jacob wrestles the ball away from a Rantoul player
Spartan Payton Jacob wrestles the ball away from Rantoul's Myejoi Williams. Jacob came off the bench to finish the night with 8 points for SJO. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

St. Joseph-Ogden's Hannah Dukeman makes a pass in their home game against Rantoul. The junior contributed 9 points in the SJO victory. (PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Click here to search for more photos 24/7 that are in the PhotoNews Media online archives. Follow this link to discover more photos from this game or order any photo from this page: SJO Girls vs Rantoul.

Walden named to WIU Dean's List

Nick Walden, wearing #57, and members of the St. Joseph-Ogden football team run out to the field before the start of their state championship football game against Stillman Valley on November 29, 2013. Running along with Walden are Spartans Jacob Bowman, Logan DeWeese and Wesley Kibler. SJO battled to an heartbreaking 43-41 overtime finish at Huskie Stadium to finish runner-up in Class 3A. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

St. Joseph-Ogden alumni Nick Walden was one of 1,361 undergraduate students named to Western Illinois University's 2018 Fall Dean's List last week.

His junior year at SJO, Walden was a member of the state final football team in 2013 that narrowly lost to the Stillman Valley Cardinals. His team finished the season with 11 wins and 3 losses.

Undergraduate students at WIU must earn at least a 3.6 grade point average while taking a minimum of 12 hours of classes. Classes taken on a pass-fail basis, for student teaching hours and internships are not counted towards the GPA calculation.

Walden, a senior, is one of 1,153 student from Illinois and seven from Champaign County to earn the Dean's academic recognition.

Dance has a date at state

This week, the SJO Dance Team will undoubtedly be working harder than they have all season - happily, without a doubt - in preparation for their 10:33 performance at the IHSA Competitive Dance State Finals on Friday. The squad will compete against 29 other teams that advanced to the state semifinals from their respective sectionals on Saturday.

However, the squad was just a snowball's throw away from not having the opportunity to even compete against the other top small school dance teams from around the state.

SJO Dance Team performs during a home game
Members of the SJO Dance Team perform during a home game earlier this month. The Spartans head to state after finishing 5th at last weekend's IHSA sectional in Mascoutah. See more SJO dancers in action. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

With a major winter event predicted to roll through central Illinois that would make highway travel precarious and possibly dangerous, the Dance Team was notified on Friday that they would not be traveling to the Illinois High School Association's Mascoutah sectional on the following day. SJO, like many other area schools using the same weather forecast as a guide, canceled all of their planned activities anticipating nasty conditions.

"The predicted weather forecast was not looking favorable for our area, on top of the fact that we had a 3 hour drive to our sectional," head coach Emily Williams explained. A SJO dance alumna herself, she has been the team's head coach for the past nine years. "Our administration made a decision that it would not be a safe trip for our dancers and their families. They also called off all other SJO activities for the weekend."

Williams said she and school administrators met with the disappointed athletes and parents on Friday afternoon explaining the decision. She pointed out that administrators from five other area schools also canceled their travel plans to the sectional competition.

However, on Saturday morning the expected 6-to-8 inch of snowfall failed to materialize. Williams and several parents contacted St. Joseph-Ogden superintendent Brian Brooks to see if they could make the trip.

"(Mr. Brooks) checked every radar possible and went out and drove several roads around Saint Joe," Williams said. "The decision was made by our administration that we could go as long as we could get a hold of IHSA and make sure it was okay with them."

Athletic director Justin Franzen was then able to square things away with the IHSA to make sure the squad could still compete. Soon after the dance team and loyal fans were on the road headed toward southern Illinois.

The team competed against 12 schools for one of the top six spots to punch their ticket to state finals at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington. The Spartans' performance was fifth best of the day.

With a final score of 85.13, SJO finished by behind the sectional champions Villa Grove (88.67), Civic Memorial (87.60), Unity (86.57) and St. Anthony (85.67). Clinton filled the last state-finalist slot with a score of 85.10.

This will be the third to trip to state for the program since the IHSA began hosting them in 2013. The Spartans made it to state in both 2014 and 2016.

Williams hopes to see plenty of St. Joseph-Ogden family and friends filling seats in the arena and cheering for her girls. A fan bus is being organized by the school. She expects details to be available on the school website by Wednesday.

SJO dance team member performs during the Spartans' home game.
A SJO dance team member performs during the Spartans' home game against Villa Grove-Heritage earlier this month. The group hopes to see lots of fans at Grossinger Motors Arena cheering them on. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

"Our dancers would love to see as many people in maroon, white, and Columbia Blue on Friday as possible," Williams said. "We have a great group of girls who are much more like a family than a team. They have worked very hard and are elated to have earned the chance to compete in the IHSA State prelims on Friday."

For now until Friday, the SJO Dance Team will be working to perfect their routine and fixed deficiencies noted by last weekend's panel of judges.

We will be practicing everyday and will break down our hip hop routine, piece by piece," Williams said. "We will go over our scoresheets from Saturday’s sectional and see what the judges said we can improve on."

Members expected to compete at Friday's state semifinal include Erin Beyers, Kalli Ingram, Haley Griebat, Rachel Gherna, Kaitlyn Hess, Ava Mills, Sara Milioli, Samantha Naylor, Isabelle Brooks, Kylie Duckett, Tessa Smith, Bella Getty, Ella Besson and Alessa Anzelmo.

Game day gyros nachos

Clark's Gyros Nachos

Using Greek gyros meat offers a unique, spicy tasting version of this popular bar appetizer and gameday snack. According to Wikipedia, Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya is credited with creating the dish in about 1943.

Gyros, originally made from lamb in Greece, is a delicious mixture of ground beef and lamb or lamb and chicken. The meat is high in calories and fat, and may not be idea if you're dieting. But, probably the three beers you have with this dish won't either.

A pan of takes about 15 minutes to make. Here's what you need to put together this awesome platter.


1 bag of Tortilla Chips
8 oz. of Cheese
1/2 to 1-lb Gyros Meat
2 Jalapenos Peppers
1 Large Tomato
1/2 Onion
1 Green Pepper
1/2 cup of Shredded Spinach
1 teaspoon of Olive Oil
Pinch of Black Pepper
Pinch of Salt


1. Pre-heat oven to 300º.

2. Spread tortilla chips on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan. Line sheet or pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up later.

3. Chop/shred spinach in a small bowl, stir in olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Set aside for later.

4. Chop tomato, jalapenos, green pepper and onion. Mix all three vegetables into a single bowl.

5. Shred gyros meat and place a layer on top of the tortilla chips.

6. Next, add a generous layer of shredded cheese over the meat and chips.

7. Spread vegetables from the bowl on top of the pile.

8. Then, sprinkle a light layer of cheese over the vegetables.

9. Finally, sprinkle clumps of spinach evenly spaced around the pan or in the center of the pile of chips and veggies.

10. Put the pan in the oven and bake at 300º for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese has melted.

11. Remove from oven and serve with sour cream or salsa.

Expert tip

1. You can get Kronos Authentic Gyros slices in a 2-pound box at Sam's Club. There are two bags in each box. One bag makes two to three trays. Use a sharp knife to shred meat.

2. Add black or green olives; black beans or re-fried; or Pico de Gallo for a tasty alternative.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share with our readers? Contact our editor at

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