NORMAL— All basketball teams have an off-night shooting occasionally.
It’s just too bad that the St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans picked the biggest stage to experience theirs.
The Spartans struggled early and often, failing to get a rhythm going, resulting in a 50-31 loss to Teutopolis on Friday in the semifinals of the 2019 Class 2A girls’ state tournament at Redbird Arena in Normal.
SJO (28-5) finished the game 10-50 (20%) from the field, despite recording a decent first quarter of 5-16 shooting. It was the second quarter where the Spartans struggled, making just one shot out of ten—one three-pointer.
“I think we had some breakdowns in the second half that gave us some problems, and I have to hand it to them, because they are a great defensive team,” said SJO Head Coach Kevin Taylor. “I’m not sure if we ran out of steam there at the end, but some of our shot selections weren’t that great.”
Although the Spartans only committed six turnovers in the game their shot selection was not the greatest, and according to junior Hannah Dukeman, the venue wasn’t the reason for their struggles shooting the ball.
“At our shoot-around on Thursday, we took notes regarding how shots were coming off and even though the sight lines are different, that didn’t really factor into our shooting woes,” Dukeman said.
Senior Bree Trimble led SJO in scoring with 10 points and was the only Spartan to notch double figures in scoring. Peyton Crowe added 9 points, while Dukeman chipped in 5 points. Trimble just missed recording a double-double by grabbing nine rebounds, while Crowe and Dukeman had 6 and 5 boards, respectively in the losing effort.
The Spartans played Teutopolis earlier in the season, a game that the Wooden Shoes won handily 72-39, but this time, the game was much closer, with the margin of victory getting away from SJO in the late stages of the game.
The Spartans trailed 11-10 after one quarter of play and after a low scoring second period, SJO felt pretty good going into the halftime locker room trailing 19-15.
But Teutopolis is known for their physical play underneath, and they used their size to their advantage in the second half, outscoring the Spartans 15-9 in the third quarter, and 16-7 in the final stanza to get the 19-point victory.
Sadie Bueker led the Wooden Shoes with a game-high 17 points, while Claire Bushur added 13, including notching a double-double with 10 rebounds. For the game, Teutopolis shot 46.5% (20-43) from the field, but struggled from beyond the arc, much like the Spartans did, only connecting on 3-12. Free throws were about even, with the Wooden Shoes making 7-12 and the Spartans finishing 7-13 from the charity stripe.
“We knew she (Bushur) had some size on us, and we may not have played her very well to start, but I was happy how our guards defended and tried to make some adjustments there, which helped on her for a while,” Taylor said.
Teutopolis (33-4) advances to the championship game on Saturday evening against the Commandos of Chicago Marshall, who staged a second half comeback to defeat the Hilltoppers of Hillsboro 50-41. Chicago Marshall will try to defend their Class 2A title from last season, while the Wooden Shoes will be looking for redemption for a loss in the semifinals a year ago to the Commandos.
SJO, who advanced further than any team in program history, will play for third place on Saturday evening against Hillsboro, and will bring home the school’s first ever trophy for girls’ basketball.
Still, the experience is one that Taylor will never forget, as will his team.
“This has been an incredible time here, and maybe it didn’t end like the seniors wanted it to, but we made history with this team, and that is something that we will always be able to say,” Taylor said.[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”4″ gal_title=”SJO girls at State”]