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

Pence tops 1,000 career points, SJO boys’ basketball finishes fourth at State Farm Holiday Classic

The opportunity to play different teams with a short window of preparation is one aspect St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ basketball coach Kiel Duval likes about the State Farm Holiday Classic.

Well, the Spartans got the chance to do just that last week at the 16-team event held in Bloomington-Normal, and SJO returned home with a fourth-place finish in the small-school tournament.

SJO opened the tournament with a 51-45 first-round win against Tri-Valley on Dec. 27 before edging Quincy Notre Dame 43-40 in a quarterfinal victory on Dec. 28. But then the Spartans ran into two tough opponents, falling 60-36 to El Paso-Gridley in the semifinals on Dec. 29 and losing 79-57 to Rockford Lutheran on Dec. 30 in the third-place game.

During the four-day tournament to end the year, Ty Pence topped 1,000 career points and also made the all-tournament team at the State Farm Holiday Classic.

Prior to the State Farm Holiday Classic, SJO defeated nonconference opponent Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 53-37 on Dec. 21 at home and put forth an impressive display during a 77-59 nonconference win at Danville on Dec. 14.
Here’s a recap of the past six games for the Spartans (11-2), who are set to resume action at 7 p.m. on Tuesday with a home nonconference game against Williamsville:

Dec. 30: Rockfords Lutheran 79, SJO 57
The Spartans had less than 12 hours to prepare for the State Farm Holiday Classic third-place game at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. And SJO got off to a sluggish start, trailing Rockford Lutheran 20-7 at the end of the first quarter. Rockford Lutheran took a 44-27 lead into halftime and led 65-44 to start the fourth quarter.
Pence scored a team-high 14 points for the Spartans and grabbed seven rebounds. Logan Smith joined him in double figures with 11 points and four assists, while Andrew Beyers just missed out on a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Coy Taylor added eight points, with Evan Ingram (six points, three assists), Tanner Jacob (five points) and Hayden Brazelton (four points) also chipping in.

Dec. 29: El Paso-Gridley 60, SJO 36
The Spartans struggled offensively throughout against the Titans in a State Farm Holiday Classic semifinal loss at the Shirk Center.
SJO trailed 12-5 at the end of the first quarter, but cut its deficit to 27-20 by halftime. But El Paso-Gridley responded with a strong third quarter and took a 47-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
Pence was the only SJO player to reach double figures, finishing with 12 points and four rebounds.
Taylor added six points, while Ingram (four points, four rebounds), Jacob (four points), Brock Trimble (three points), Smith (three points), Beyers (two points) and Maddux Carter (two points) also dented the scoring column.

Dec. 28: SJO 43, Quincy Notre Dame 40
The Spartans earned a spot in the semifinals at the State Farm Holiday Classic with a hard-fought win against the Raiders in the quarterfinals at the Shirk Center.
SJO trailed 11-8 at the end of the first quarter and 18-16 at halftime, but used a late third-quarter run to take a 36-30 lead into the fourth quarter
Pence poured in a game-high 27 points to go along with four rebounds. Ingram tossed in five points, while Luke Landrus (four points), Beyers (three points, seven rebounds), Smith (two points) and Taylor (two points) also made important offensive contributions in SJO’s 11th straight win to start the season.

Dec. 27: SJO 51, Tri-Valley 45
SJO fended off the Vikings to open its stay at the State Farm Holiday Classic with a first-born win at Normal West High School.
The Spartans led 12-9 at the end of the first quarter, 30-15 at halftime and 41-29 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Pence dropped in 19 points to pace SJO, with Ingram supplying eight points and Smith contributing seven points. Taylor (six points, four rebounds), Jacob (five points, three assists), Beyers (four points) and McGwire Atwood (two points, four rebounds) also had key roles in the victory.

Dec. 21: SJO 53, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 37
A slow start nearly derailed the Spartans in their final home game of 2021, but SJO relied on another big game from Pence and complementary play from others in earning the win. SJO was behind 11-5 at the end of the first quarter, but took a 22-16 lead into halftime and increased its advantage to 37-18 by the start of the fourth quarter.
Pence scored 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Smith joined him in double figures with 10 points. Ingram had a solid all-around game with eight points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
Beyers (six points), Taylor (five points) and Landrus (two points) rounded out the scoring.

Dec. 14: SJO 77, Danville 59
With multiple Division I college coaches in attendance to watch Pence, including Illinois coach Brad Underwood, the Spartans rolled to a comfortable nonconference win against the big-school Vikings.
SJO led 16-13 at the end of the first quarter, 38-27 at halftime and 60-44 to start the fourth quarter.
Ingram scored a game-high 25 points and handed out four assists, while Pence contributed a double-double of 18 points an 12 rebounds. He added four assists.
Smith contributed 15 points and four rebounds, while Beyers made it four SJO players in double figures with 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. Taylor was the other Spartan to factor into the scoring, finishing with six points, five rebounds and six assists.

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