January 27, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO girls’ basketball reaches Sweet 16

One more win and the St. Joseph-Ogden High School girls’ basketball team can celebrate its first sectional championship in 12 years.


The Spartans kept their magical season intact with a 53-38 win against Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley on Monday night in a Class 2A sectional semifinal game on GCMS’ home court.


The win was the 13th in a row for the Spartans, who are back in a sectional title game for the second straight season.


SJO (26-4) broke open a close game against the Falcons in the second half thanks to balanced scoring. Both teams were tied at 12 after the first quarter before SJO went into halftime with a 27-23 lead.


The Spartans expanded their lead to 39-30 to start the fourth quarter before closing out and ending the season for GCMS (24-6).


Bree Trimble scored a game-high 16 points to lead SJO, while Maclayne Taylor was close behind with 14 points — 10 in the second half — and Hannah Dukeman added 12 points, including two three-pointers in the first quarter to help out SJO.


Peyton Crowe (eight points), Payton Jacob (two points) and Payton Vallee (one point) rounded out the scoring for the Spartans.


SJO will take on an unfamiliar foe, at least to the current players, in the sectional championship game that tips off at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Gibson City. Watseka (26-3) defeated Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 45-39 in the first sectional semifinal game on Monday night in Gibson City, and SJO hasn’t faced the Warriors — a former Sangamon Valley Conference opponent when both schools were in the league — this season.


If SJO knocks off Watseka, the Spartans would advance to the Pontiac Super-Sectional at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 18. The winner of the GCMS Sectional will meet the winner of the Lisle Sectional that night in Pontiac. The Lisle sectional semifinal games are set to tip off on Tuesday night, with Chicago Catalyst/Maria and Chicago Crane playing at 6 p.m. before Lisle faces off against Chicago Christian at 7:30 p.m.

In boys’ basketball
The win streak has ended for St. Joseph-Ogden High School, but the Spartans’ boys’ basketball program can still win the Illini Prairie Conference championship.


The Spartans suffered a 49-46 loss on Saturday afternoon to Peoria Quest at the Riverton Shootout, snapping nine consecutive wins by the Spartans.
SJO (18-8, 8-0 IPC) plays its final nonconference game of the regular season at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Paxton-Buckley-Loda before a showdown is set for Friday night in St. Joseph. Bloomington Central Catholic (20-7, 7-0) is set to visit. BCC is slated to host Prairie Central on Thursday night, and if the Saints knock off the Hawks, the winner on Friday night will win the IPC title outright.


During its loss to Peoria Quest on Saturday, SJO trailed 17-10 at the end of the first quarter before closing the gap and tying the game at 22 heading into halftime. SJO only trailed 33-30 to star the fourth quarter, but the deficit remained three points once the final buzzer sounded.


Joel Orcutt scored a game-high 14 points for SJO, with Jack Cook adding 12 points. Payton Cain chipped in nine points, while Keanen Swanson finished with eight points. Chance Izard rounded out the scoring for the Spartans with three points.

In wrestling
Two wrestlers will represent St. Joseph-Ogden High School when the state meet begins on Thursday.


Senior Jake Wendling at 120 pounds and sophomore A.J. Wagner at 106 both clinched state berths by finishing fourth in their respective weight classes this past Saturday at the Class 1A Carterville Sectional, securing their spots to wrestle at State Farm Center in Champaign on Thursday.
After reaching the semifinals at the sectional meet, Wendling lost by a 10-4 decision to eventual sectional champion Dayton Hall. Wendling recovered, though, with a 13-3 major decision against Elliott Stifle from Robinson in his first wrestleback match. That clinched a top-four finish at the sectional meet for Wendling — who has battled injuries for the majority of the season — and a state berth before Wendling injury-defaulted in his third-place match against Ryder Parson of Pinckneyville.


Wendling (11-3) is set to wrestle Gabe Spencer (45-0 from Heyworth in his first-round match at state.


Like Wendling, Wagner reached the semifinals in Carterville, but lost his semifinal match in an 8-2 decision to Matthew Minick of Belleville Althoff. Wagner responded in his first wrestleback match, delivering a 5-0 decision against Aaron Niemeyer of East Alton-Wood River. Wagner started his sectional meet by defeating Niemeyer and pulled off the feat twice on the weekend. Wagner, however, couldn’t finish off his sectional stay with a third-place finish, losing a narrow 1-0 decision to Jarek Wehrele from Vandalia.


Wagner (43-7) is slated to wrestle Billy Tay (36-2) from Ridgeview in his first-round match at state.

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