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

Pence, Smith lead Spartans as they prepare for postseason

The significance of the games will only increase as the days add up in February.
And the St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ basketball team will continue its flurry of games on Monday night, traveling to play at Bloomington Central Catholic in a rescheduled Illini Prairie Conference game.

SJO has played eight games during the past two-plus weeks, generating a 6-2 record in the process. The Spartans carry an 18-6 overall record, including a 4-2 mark in Illini Prairie games, going into the game at Bloomington Central Catholic that was originally scheduled for this past Friday night but was rescheduled because of inclement weather.
Here’s a roundup of what the Spartans have been up to on the court since mid-January:

Feb. 5: SJO 40, Pleasant Plains 35
The Spartans overcame a slow start offensively and clamped down defensively to rally for a nonconference win during the Illini Prairie/Sangamo Challenge held at Maroa-Forsyth High School, SJO’s second straight win.
Ty Pence and Logan Smith each produced 12 points and five rebounds for SJO, with Smith distributing six assists as well.
Pleasant Plains held a 16-9 lead at the end of the first quarter before SJO cut its deficit to 18-16 at halftime, but the Spartans still trailed 24-19 heading into the fourth quarter.
Andrew Beyers contributed eight points, while Brock Trimble added six points and four rebounds. Luke Landrus rounded out the scoring for SJO with two points.

Feb. 1: SJO 90, Olympia 40
The Spartans wasted little time in getting out to an early lead before scoring a season-high in points during this Illini Prairie home win that ended a two-game losing streak for SJO.
Pence compiled 29 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals to lead SJO. But he wasn’t the only Spartan in double figures. Smith finished with 18 points, five rebounds and six steals, while Coy Taylor dropped in 16 points to go along with four assists.
Their playmaking abilities helped SJO take a 27-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, a 52-23 lead into halftime and an 81-34 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Beyers stuffed the stat sheet, too, with five points, six rebounds and three assists, while Nolan Grindley and Trimble each chipped in five points.
Landrus (four points), Hayden Brazelton (three points, five assists), Maddux Carter (three points) and Colin Wayland (two points) also contributed in the lopsided win.

Jan. 30: Chicago Taft 64, SJO 35
SJO traveled to Chicago to take part in the Chicago Orr Shootout and held its own in the first quarter before stalling out in a nonconference loss.
SJO and Taft were tied at 13 after the first quarter before Taft went into halftime with a 38-24 lead that it expanded to 52-29 by the start of the fourth quarter.
Pence led SJO with 13 points, while Beyers added seven points and seven rebounds. Taylor also finished with seven points.
Smith (three points, four rebounds), Trimble (three points) and McGwire Atwood (two points) also scored for SJO.

Jan. 28: Monticello 57, SJO 29
The visiting Spartans struggled in the second half of an Illini Prairie loss that ended their win streak at four games.
SJO trailed 9-8 at the end of the first quarter and 24-15 at halftime before going into the fourth quarter down 40-21. Pence topped the scoring for SJO with 17 points, while Trimble (six points), Smith (three points), Brazelton (two points) and Taylor (one point) tried to pitch in on a night where SJO only shot 27 percent from the field.

Jan. 25: SJO 45, St. Thomas More 43
SJO needed a strong effort in the fourth quarter to avoid a home loss in this Illini Prairie game.
The Spartans took an 11-4 lead after the first quarter, only to head into halftime with a 21-16 deficit that still saw STM with a 33-29 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Pence and Smith each finished with 14 points for the Spartans, as Pence added seven rebounds. Taylor wound up with nine points and four assists, while Beyers (five points), Atwood (two points) and Brazelton (one point) all scored in a game where SJO needed all the offense it could get.

Jan. 22: SJO 55, Effingham St. Anthony 43
SJO, like it has many times this season, relied on a huge performance from Pence to procure a win.
Pence poured in 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to produce a double-double for the Spartans in a road nonconference win. SJO led St. Anthony 10-6 at the end of the first quarter, but trailed 24-23 at halftime before taking a 38-35 lead into the fourth quarter.
Smith (seven points, three assists), Evan Ingram (six points, six assists), Taylor (six points, four rebounds) and Beyers (five points) complemented Pence’s contributions.

Jan. 21: SJO 72, Chillicothe IVC 64
Pence nearly pulled off a triple-double as the Spartans held on for a home win in Illini Prairie play.
Pence finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as SJO led the Grey Ghosts 19-10 at the end of the first quarter, 31-24 at halftime and 54-44 after three quarters.
Ingram joined Pence in double figures with 14 points, and so did Smith with 11 points.
Beyers (seven points, six rebounds, three assists), Taylor (six points, three assists) and Brazelton (two points) also chipped in.

Jan. 18: SJO 64, Prairie Central 54
SJO snapped a two-game losing streak with an important road win in Fairbury during Illini Prairie action.
Pence scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Smith provided another spark with 19 points and three assists.
The Spartans trailed 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, but led 24-20 at halftime and 42-37 after three quarters.
Beyers (seven points, five rebounds), Taylor (six points), Atwood (five points, four rebounds) and Ingram (two points, three assists) also had timely contributions in the win.

What’s ahead
The busy stretch of games continues for the Spartans this week. After Monday night’s trip to Bloomington Central Catholic, the Spartans will turn around and host Rantoul at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in another Illini Prairie game.
SJO will then head to Tolono on Friday night for a 7 p.m. game at Illini Prairie rival Unity before another quick turnaround awaits on Saturday, with the Spartans set to travel to the Riverton Shootout for a 1:30 p.m. nonconference game with Pana.
Postseason seeds for the Class 2A postseason are set to be released on Thursday before pairings are unveiled on Friday. SJO will either head to Tolono or Gibson City for a regional, with Unity and GCMS the regional hosts in the Clifton Central sub-sectional that SJO is a part of.

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