February 8, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Historic night: St. Joseph, PVO seventh-grade boys’ basketball teams playing for state titles

Sugg. Head:
By Jim Cotter

Thursday night will be one members of the St. Joseph Middle School and Prairieview-Ogden seventh-grade boys’ basketball teams will cherish.

For quite some time.

Both teams, separated by only 10 miles, will play in state championship games in their respective classes.

St. Joseph (21-5) will vie for the Class 3A state title against Taylor Ridge Rockridge (21-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Wenona at Fieldcrest Middle School. At the same time, PVO (22-4) will play for a 1A state championship against Lincoln West Lincoln-Broadwell (28-1) at East Peoria Central Junior High School.

St. Joseph earned its place in the title game with two wins this past Saturday, defeating Piasa Southwestern 30-26 in the state quarterfinals before holding off a pesky Williamsville squad 34-32 on Saturday evening in the state semifinals.

James Barron scored a team-high eight points in the win against Southwestern, with Tanner Siems (seven points), Kendrick Johnson (six points), Collin Thomey (five points) and Kyler Swanson (four points) all chipping in.

Siems scored a game-high 16 points in the win against Williamsville, with Thomey (12 points), Barron (two points), Johnson (two points) and Logan Mills (two points) also denting the scoring column.

St. Joseph, who is coached by Wes Miler, is making its 13th trip to the state tournament in school history, but has never won a boys’ basketball state championship.

According to Miller, the days leading up to the championship game have been exciting, but preparation continues in the same fashion.
“We really haven’t done anything different than normal, except work on preparation for our opponent, such as what (Rockridge) runs, who is guarding whom and so forth,” Miller said.

Many of the Panthers have played together since they were in third grade on a travel team established several years ago.

This has given these young men a chance to gel as a team, while getting better in the process.

“We just take each game one at a time and not try to get too high or too low,” Miller said. “I don’t think that any of our boys are caught up in the moment, but it still will be an exciting time for them to represent their school and play for a state title.”

Siems said playing with many of his current teammates from a young age has led them to this successful season.

“We’ve been playing together since we were in second grade, and we would always play teams that were a year older and in the beginning, we would lose by 50 points on some occasions,” Siems said, “but every time we went out there, we learned something so that the lopsided losses became few and far between, and we began to have success.”

Besides Barron, Johnson, Mills, Siems, Swanson and Thomey, Jared Altenbaumer, Hayden Coffey, Jude Coursey, Jackson Ennis, Owen Knapp, Jefferey Kuchenbrod, Gabe Mata, Carson Sarnecki and Carter Turner are on the St. Joseph team.

PVO, meanwhile, earned its way into the state championship game with two wins this past Saturday, defeating Kewanee Visitation 40-31 in the state quarterfinals and edged Normal Epiphany 36-35 in a thrilling state semifinal.

Coy Taylor scored a game-high 15 points to pace PVO against Kewanee Visitation, with Logan Lackey (11 points), Kodey McKinney (eight points) and Parker Fitch (six points) rounding out the scoring.
Lackey produced a game-high 15 points in the win against Normal Epiphany, with Taylor (14 points), Fitch (four points) and McKinney (three points) also contributing.

The Mustangs, coached by Chase Gilliland, are making their ninth state tournament appearance. But, just like St. Joseph, are vying for their first-ever state title.

“We finished second in 2009, and there have been a handful of times that we have gone to state, but this team is special because of the makeup of this team,” Gilliland said. “We’ve been working on a lot in practice this week preparing for our opponent. This group has worked really hard this season.”

Gilliland helped his dad, Duane, coach on his way up the ranks, and the elder Gilliland still coaches the fifth and sixth grade teams at PVO. Chase said he has learned a lot from his dad coaching, and it’s been exciting being on this run with players that he has coached before them moving up.

“Most of the time, the players will be done with organized basketball once they graduate eighth grade, but for this team, I see a lot of promise for their future, especially when they move into high school and join the St. Joseph boys on the court,” Gilliland said. “SJO fans should be happy about what is about to come for the basketball program.”

Along with Fitch, Lackey, McKinney and Taylor, other team members are Tayton Gerdes, Ray Graham, Brodie Harms, Coy Hayes, James Huisinga and Vance McComas.

Banner
Related Posts

Immke, Wagner represent SJO at state wrestling meet

February 20, 2020

February 20, 2020

Win four consecutive wrestling matches. That’s what’s needed to win a state wrestling title. Sounds simple, right? Well, easier said...

Pence, Smith propel SJO boys’ basketball to State Farm Holiday Classic title

January 3, 2023

January 3, 2023

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ basketball team celebrated the holidays in fashion. How? By winning a State Farm Holiday...

Get to know SJO volleyball player Shayne Immke

October 31, 2022

October 31, 2022

What do you think makes the team so successful? We all have such amazing talent and team chemistry and we...

Pence, Beyers lead SJO boys’ basketball into regional title game against rival Unity

February 25, 2022

February 25, 2022

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ basketball team could win a regional title on Friday night. Against the Spartans’ rival....

She’s Back! Dukeman set to get another shot at softball this summer

June 30, 2020

June 30, 2020

Hannah Dukeman is getting a chance to play softball despite COVID-19 stealing her senior season at St. Joseph-Ogden High School....

SJO girls’ basketball wins sectional title, advances to Elite Eight

February 15, 2019

February 15, 2019

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School girls’ basketball team waited more than a decade to give the program another sectional title....

Heritage softball hires new coach

March 8, 2019

March 8, 2019

Greg Immke is no longer the Heritage softball coach. The Heritage Board of Education accepted his resignation at their February...

Get to know SJO Volleyball player Peyton Williams

October 31, 2022

October 31, 2022

What do you think makes the team so successful? I think what makes our team so successful is the determination...

SJO girls’ basketball wins tournament title in Fisher

December 2, 2019

December 2, 2019

The St. Joseph-Ogden girls’ basketball team already has a tournament championship to its name this season, but the Spartans are...

Dukeman, Martlage help SJO softball get back to winning streak

April 29, 2019

April 29, 2019

Challenging road games await the St. Joseph-Ogden High School softball team at the start of this week. But the Spartans...

Ingram, balanced run game and opportunistic defense lead SJO football to first win

September 23, 2021

September 23, 2021

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School football team needed a win. In a big way. The Spartans delivered one. In a...

Burnett, Steinbach lead SJO volleyball to season-opening win

August 24, 2021

August 24, 2021

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School volleyball team opened its season Monday night with a solid win. The Spartans went on...

Plotner and Bagby lead Spartans to second place showing

April 5, 2019

April 5, 2019

The St. Joseph-Ogden High School girls’ track and field team began the outdoor season with a runner-up showing at a...

SJO to host first-round playoff game

October 22, 2022

October 22, 2022

The St. Joseph-Ogden football team (6-3) will host Robinson (6-3) in the first round of the IHSA Class 3A football...

Road tough: Jones, Armstrong key unbeaten Illini Prairie start for SJO girls’ basketball

January 20, 2022

January 20, 2022

The Illini Prairie Conference title is there for the taking. And the St. Joseph-Ogden High School girls’ basketball team has...

Comments
Leave a Reply