Over the past year, students at St. Joseph-Ogden High School have endured many different changes in their lives during the ongoing pandemic.
They have missed homecoming dances, proms, time with friends, not to mention going to athletic events when those were even held.
Thanks to the generosity of some parents of boys’ basketball players, some students reprised their role of the Maroon Platoon for Friday night’s home game vs. Olympia by being allowed to attend and cheer on their peers in the safest environment possible.
Current IHSA rules, in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the governor’s office, state only 50 spectators can attend games. Each basketball player can have two people in attendance to watch them play.
So, in order to give the SJO students a chance to see the team in action this season, parents of the players decided to let their students give their tickets to a fellow student to create what has been missing for over a year.
The result was a raucous environment with students cheering from the balcony seating area at every shot, defensive play, and dunk that the Spartans made during the game.
This resulted in the Spartans coming away with an 81-58 win over the Spartans from Olympia
According to the players, they enjoyed the change in atmosphere and fed off the enthusiasm in the gym.
“It was great. We really haven’t had a student section out there this season and this being the first time for them to attend a game, it gave us great energy and helped us lock in,” sophomore Ty Pence said.
Pence, who led the Spartans with 24 points and 10 rebounds, has been putting up big numbers this season and gave the students in attendance something to cheer about as he had a couple of slam dunks that elicited a few loud exchanges from the student body that was at the game.
Evan Ingram added 16 points, including four shots made beyond the arc. Ingram also commented on the student section and what they brought to the energy in the game.
“I like having all my friends and students watching me and being loud. It really gave the game a different energy that we hadn’t had all season,” Ingram said.
Ingram’s dad Jasen, who has been in attendance all season, understood the decision to have the students attend the game, meaning that he would miss seeing his son play live.
“While I’ll miss watching from the stands, I really love the idea. These boys deserve to play in front of a loud and rowdy crowd,” Jasen said.
Senior Cameron Costa added 11 points while junior Andrew Beyers chipped in 10 for the Spartans, who will conclude the season over the next week with three more games.
SJO played on Saturday against Teutopolis on Saturday and was defeated 69-48.
The Spartans currently have an 8-3 record and play their final home game against St. Thomas More tonight, and then a game at Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin on Friday night to close out the abbreviated season.