Spartan basketball teams to face the state's best at State Farm Classic

Bloomington -- Once again, St. Joseph-Ogden boys' and girls' basketball programs will compete for tournament titles at the State Farm Holiday Classic next month. This year's tournament is the 43rd in the series and includes three state champions, two additional state trophy winners, and 17 teams overall ranked last season in the final AP poll. The annual holiday hoops competition at four locations in Bloomington-Normal December 27-30.

Under first-year head coach Drew Arteaga, the Lady Spartans lost their first two games, then regrouped to win their last two. SJO finished fifth in last year's consolation bracket after using a 20-point advantage to roll over El Paso-Gridley, 49-29.

Meanwhile, the St. Joseph-Ogden boys squad, the #2 seed in the 2021 tournament, opened the post-Christmas basketball tournament with wins over Tri-Valley and Quincy Notre Dame. The Spartans then suffered back-to-back losses finishing in 4th place.

In the small school boys' bracket with SJO, the field of participating programs includes Annawan, Aurora Christian, Bloomington Central Catholic, Chicago Providence St. Mel, Downs Tri-Valley, East Dubuque, El Paso-Gridley, Kankakee Bishop McNamara, Minonk Fieldcrest, Normal University, Quincy Notre Dame, Rock Falls, Rockford Lutheran, Stanford Olympia, and Winnebago.

"Our boys’ field is loaded with perennial powerhouse teams and highly recruited players," said Tournament President Kyle Myers. "We had three large school teams opt out of returning, but we feel the new teams we are bringing in will continue to make our tournament ‘The Best Basketball this side of March!’"

Meanwhile, the girls' small school bracket features most of the historically top 1A and 2A basketball programs in the state, which include: Annawan, Bloomington Central Catholic, Brimfield, Camp Pt. Central/Augusta Southeastern, El Paso-Gridley, Kankakee Bishop McNamara, Normal University, Paris, Port Byron Riverdale, Rock Falls, Rockford Lutheran, Sherrard, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, Stanford Olympia, and Winnebago are all schools that consistently make deep postseason runs.

Winnebago, who finished the season as the Class 2A runner-up, won last year's girls' tournament title with Brimfield, the 2021 Class 1A state champions, finishing in second place.