SJO picks up second victory in as many days

After squeaking by Unity the night before 58-51, the Spartans got up the next morning and hit the road to Robinson (3-4) for a non-conference game. Behind the one-two punch of Ty Pence and Evan Ingram, St. Joseph-Ogden closed the book on the contest, 53-43.

Head coach Kiel Duval credited his team's "limiting turnovers and (having) a couple guys stepping up and hitting big shots" as the key factors securing the W on Saturday, February 20. He add, "Ingram and (Andrew) Beyers gave us a huge lift with some big time shots."

A tough game the night before and a long bus ride less that 12 hours later for the Spartans did not lead to a very impressive start against the Maroons.

"I wasn't impressed in the first 3 minutes of the game with how we came out of the gates. We were not ready to play right away," Duval said. "(We) didn't lock into the scouting report or details that we talked about before the game."

After Robinson's Jeff Goble banked one in from inside the free throw lane to put the first digits on the scoreboard, Jackson Rydell found net for the first SJO bucket on a pass from Ingram to tie the score at 2-all in the first quarter.

The Spartans sloppy play contributed to a five point deficit, falling behind 10-5 at one point in the period. During a timeout Duval reminded each player of their role and strategy that was laid for the game. Their focus where it needed to be, the team got it into gear.

"We responded well after that," Duval said. "(They) got stops - made some big buckets when we needed them."

In the final 2 minutes and 14 seconds of the quarter SJO clawed their way back into the contest. Outscoring the Maroons 9-5 and still behind on the scoreboard, the Spartans trailed by one to start the next quarter, 15-14.

The second quarter looked much like first with Robinson pulling ahead by five again. And once again, St. Joseph-Ogden played catch-up basketball until the last 1:10 of the half when a Luke Hutcherson shot passed through the rim to give his team a 24-23 advantage.

The lead was short-lived. Fifty-some seconds later Goble, who finished the game with a team-high 12 points for the Maroons, hit a jumper from in front of the free throw line to give his team a 25-24 halftime lead. Gobel went on to lead his team's scoring effort with 12 points and secured nine of team's 25 total rebounds.

After the two teams returned to play the second half, St. Joseph-Ogden would go on to outscore the Robinson 29-18 to stretch their perfect record to 5-0.

Pence led all scorers with 16 points for the Spartans, eight of those from inside the free throw lane. The sophomore had 10 rebounds and was credited with one assist.

Ingram led the team in steals with two and qualified as the game's second leading scorer with 13 points. Beyer added another needed 12 points to the SJO cause.

Box Score

Robinson 15 10 5 13 - 43
St. Joseph-Ogden 14 10 14 15 - 53

Robinson
Gilmore 3 (0) 4-4 -- 10, Goblee 6 (0) 0-0 -- 12, Jackson 4 (0) 0-0 -- 8, Johnson 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, King 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, N. Weber 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Shindler 2 (0) 3-5 -- 7.

St. Joseph-Ogden
Brazelton 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Costa 0 (1) 0-0 -- 3, Hutcherson 2 (1) 0-2 -- 7, Smith 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Burch 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Grindley 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Wetzel 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Rydell 1 (0) 0-0 -- 2, Beyers 4 (0) 4-4 -- 12, Atwood 0 (0) 0-0 -- 0, Pence 4 (1) 5-7 -- 16, Ingram 0 (4) 1-2 -- 13.

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

Unity
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.

Guest Commentary: Relieve their burden, plan your funeral

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator


A good friend died recently. At the age of 80 all his life insurance had expired and his savings was spent. His family, financially, were living from week to week. His failing health along with Covid-19 put him in an Intensive Care Unit for days apart from his family where he died. His hospitalization brought more bills and financial hardship for those left behind. Needless to say, there wasn't any money to pay for a casket, embalming, plot of ground and a grave marker.

His young adult son put together their dire scenario and sent it out to everyone his family knew. Within a week 103 friends had given $20,300 to momentarily rescue this family from their perilous situation. It was enough money to buy a casket, embalming, a plot of ground and a small grave memorial marker.

Do you have 103 friends who would give $20 to $2000 each to pay for your burial expenses?

When we are dead, we won't care.
I know I do not. Such an outpouring was a testimony to his life and the lives of so many he had touched. This story is a sad reminder that we must take prudent steps toward covering our burial/funeral costs.

I don't want my wife or children to have to figure it out after I'm dead. Often, we don't get a choice. We die way before we have time to make our final arrangements. This happens a lot. This is why we need to do it now or as soon as we can.

Another dear friend recently died very young. Her family was strapped for cash and went the rout of cremation. Cremation is costing between $2500 to $7500 depending on where you live. Not cheap. My Navy son said, "Dad, just cremate me and scatter my remains over the north Atlantic." I pray he lives to be a hundred and his grandchildren have to do that.

Some of you know my wife died back in 2002. Her funeral cost me about $10,000 and her grave plot was $600.

I was cash strapped at the age of 47. I had nothing but medical bills and a house payment. I wasn't prepared for a funeral, mentally or financially.

The only thing that saved me was a year before she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a good friend sold us small life insurance policies. He also talked us into paying extra for a disability wavier on the policy. The disability wavier was the only way I was able to maintain that life insurance policy which we used 13 years after he sold it to us.

It was the only way I could have paid for that funeral, unless I could have borrowed more money on my house. This was doubtful because I already had a second mortgage on the house from trying to pay other medical bills. I would have been hurting and probably would have had to go the cheapest route available for her funeral. It was simply the grace of God and a wise insurance agent who saved us in that respect.

My mother and father-in-law both died recently and their funeral expenses alone were over $14,000 each. Fortunately, they had saved enough money to cover these costs. You can spend less and you can spend more of course. The question is do you want your family to have to figure it out? Sit down with a trusted funeral director and begin making preparations now.

Decide which route you want to go. Decide how much you want to spend. You can plan everything. Pick out everything. Most likely pay for everything. Just make sure you are dealing with a very trusted funeral director.

Write out everything you want done including music, speakers and anything specific you want them to say. It's up to you of course. Make several copies of your wishes and what you have done. It's amazing how people lose stuff.

When we are dead, we won't care. We won't know, but we care now.

I know most of us care about those we leave behind. This is one way we can help them to know how and what we want done and relieve their burden by making the arrangements ourselves.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of American Issues, Every American Has An Opinion and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.

-----------------------------------------------------------

This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.


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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

Unity
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

Unity
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.

Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond
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.


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