December 1, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Izard leads SJO boys’ basketball to Classic title

Defending its home court and winning its own tournament each season is always a main goal for the St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ basketball team.

Mission accomplished for the Spartans.

SJO finished 5-0 at the Toyota of Danville Classic the Spartans hosted last week, winning the title at the six-team tournament in St. Joseph.


SJO capped off its tournament with a 59-49 win against Watseka last Saturday night, which came hours after a convincing 74-39 win against Schlarman earlier last Saturday.

SJO also defeated Cissna Park 65-49 last Friday night, La Salette 48-26 last Wednesday night and Georgetown-Ridge Farm 65-37 last Tuesday night in what also doubled as the Spartans’ season opener.


SJO senior guard Chance Izard earned tournament MVP honors, proving to be a catalyst for the Spartans’ season-opening week of solid play.

Izard averaged 18.6 points during the Classic, hitting double figures in four of the Spartans’ five wins. He poured in 24 points during the win against Watseka, 25 points during the win against Schlarman, 18 points during the win against Cissna Park, seven points during the win against La Salette and 19 points during the win against Georgetown-Ridge Farm.

But the Spartans were far from a one-man show throughout the week. Freshman forward Ty Pence added 17 points and senior forward Payton Cain contributed eight points in the win against Watseka, which saw SJO lead 17-10 at the end of the first quarter, 27-24 at halftime and 40-34 to start the fourth quarter.

The Spartans gradually expanded their lead in their 35-point win against Schlarman, taking an 18-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, a 40-22 advantage at halftime and a 64-34 lead after the third quarter. Cain chipped in 12 points, while senior forward Conner Hodge and senior guard Payton Grimsley each added eight points and junior guard Lukas Hutcherson added six points.

Two other Spartans besides Izard reached double-digit scoring against Cissna Park, with Pence compiling a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Drew Coursey had a significant contribution with 10 points, while Hutcherson drained three three-pointers en route to all nine of his points and senior guard Jordan Kelly finished with six points. SJO steadily grew its lead against Cissna Park, going from a 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter to 31-23 at halftime and 49-39 to start the fourth quarter.

Cain scored eight of his team-high 10 points in the third quarter and added a team-high seven rebounds during the win against La Salette as SJO led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter, 21-14 at halftime and breaking the game open with a strong third quarter to lead 39-19 to start the fourth quarter.

Pence finished with eight points against the Lions, making all four of his free throws and adding four rebounds. Hodge (six points) and sophomore forward Andrew Beyers (five points) also contributed scoring-wise for SJO.

The Spartans recovered from a slow start in their season opener to easily pull away from the Buffaloes. SJO only led 7-4 at the end of the first quarter and 21-11 at halftime before taking a 43-22 lead to start the fourth quarter.

On top of Izard’s strong game, Kelly added 12 points, all in the second half, while Cain (eight points), Pence (seven points) and senior forward Luke Renfrew (six points) all chipped in.

SJO has the rest of the week to prepare for two home nonconference games this weekend, with Rantoul visiting for a 7 p.m. tip on Friday and Tri-Valley making the trek to St. Joseph for a 3:30 p.m. game on Saturday.

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