April 14, 2024 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

After winning Illini Prairie Conference championship, SJO girls’ basketball to play for regional title

Postseason accomplishments are significant ways to remember a season.
But so are conference championships.
And when this chapter is written on the history of the St. Joseph-Ogden girls’ basketball program, the Spartans can know they won an Illini Prairie Conference title with a perfect 10-0 league record this season. While possibly adding a regional title as well.
The Spartans opened the postseason on Monday night with a convincing 53-22 win against Clifton Central in a Class 2A Kankakee Bishop McNamara Regional semifinal game. SJO, the top seed, are set to play sixth-seeded and host Bishop McNamara at 7 p.m. on Friday in the regional championship game.
SJO will carry a 22-7 overall record into the game against Bishop McNamara, with a spot in next week’s Peotone Sectional on the line.
Here’s a look back at the past three weeks for SJO before the Spartans vie for the program’s 18th regional title later this week:

Feb. 14: SJO 53, Clifton Central 22
The Spartans relied on balanced scoring in the regional semifinal win in Kankakee to open the postseason on a high note.
Taylor Wells and Ella Armstrong each finished with 12 points to lead SJO, while Payton Jacob and Peyton Jones weren’t far behind with 10 points apiece.
Their contributions, plus sound defense, allowed the Spartans to take a 10-5 lead at the end of the first quarter that they expanded to 25-9 by halftime and 44-17 to start the fourth quarter.
Addison Frick added three points, while Kaytlyn Baker, Peyton Williams and Alyssa Hamilton all wound up with two points.

Feb. 9: SJO 50, Pleasant Plains 32
The Spartans used strong defense through the first three quarters to close the regular season with a nonconference win at home.
SJO led 12-3 at the end of the first quarter, 26-7 at halftime and 37-11 to start the fourth quarter.
Wells and Jones each reached double figures, dropping in 11 points apiece to spark SJO. Armstrong chipped in seven points, with Ashlyn Lannert, Frick and Jacob each compiling five points. Addy Martinie, Hamilton and Hallie Harms rounded out the scoring for the Spartans with two points each.

Feb. 7: SJO 50, Paxton-Buckley-Loda 28
The final Illini Prairie game showcased more of the same elements the Spartans have put together so successfully this season: balanced scoring and stout defense to cap SJO’s undefeated 10-0 mark in league play.
SJO only led 8-6 at the end of the first quarter before taking a 24-9 lead into halftime that had increased to 39-20 by the end of the third quarter and earning the home win.
Jones scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Spartans, with Frick joining her in double figures with 10 points.
Lannert contributed seven points, while Armstrong added six points. Jacob (five points), Wells (four points) and Baltzell (two points) also dented the scoring column.

Feb. 5: SJO 49, Unity 27
SJO steadily increased its lead in taking down its rival during an Illini Prairie home win.
Armstrong scored a game-high 10 points as SJO led 13-7 at the end of the first quarter, 25-13 at halftime and 39-19 to start the fourth quarter.
Jones and Hamilton each delivered nine points, while Wells added eight points and Frick chipped in six points.
Jacob (four points), Lannert (two points) and Baker (one point) also contributed.

Jan 31: SJO 47, Rantoul 6
The Spartans supplied airtight defense and balanced scoring to cruise in an Illini Prairie road win.
SJO led 15-0 at the end of the first quarter and took an insurmountable 37-3 lead into halftime before carrying a 43-6 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Lannert scored a game-high nine points, one of 10 SJO players to score in the game. Armstrong (eight points), Frick (seven points) and Jones (five points) complemented Lannert. Jacob, Martinie and Hamilton each finished with four points, while Wells, Baker and Alison Kearney all scored two points apiece.

Jan. 29: Pana 66, SJO 32
The only loss for SJO in the last month happened against a state-ranked foe at the Illini Prairie/Sangamo Challenge held in Williamsville.
The Spartans fell behind 18-12 at the end of the first quarter and trailed 40-22 at halftime before Pana took a 60-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
Armstrong scored a team-high 15 points to lead SJO, while Lannert chipped in nine points. Martinie (three points), Jacob (two points), Wells (two points) and Baltzell (one point) rounded out the scoring.

Jan. 27: SJO 56, Bloomington Central Catholic 27
A strong first half paved the way for the Spartans to post a home win in Illini Prairie action.
The Spartans led the Saints 21-7 at the end of the first quarter, 37-14 at halftime and 51-22 to start the fourth quarter.
Jones contributed a game-high 16 points on the strength of four three-pointers, while Armstrong joined her in double figures with 13 points.
Wells added nine points and Frick came through with seven points, while Lannert (five points), Jacob (four points) and Hamilton (two points) all chipped in.

Jan. 25: SJO 50, Olympia 40
SJO shut out Olympia in the third quarter, able to create enough distance after the Illini Prairie game in Stanford was tied at 25 at halftime.
SJO took a 37-25 lead into the fourth quarter, able to keep Olympia at bay in the final quarter.
Wells scored a team-high 13 points and Jacob wasn’t far behind with 12 points. Lannert and Jones also reached double figures by scoring 10 points apiece.
Frick (three points) and Armstrong (two points) also chimed in during the win.

Jan. 20: SJO 50, Monticello 29

A halftime deficit wasn’t enough to deter the Spartans from compiling an impressive home win in Illini Prairie play.
SJO led 6-2 at the end of the first quarter, but went into the locker room with a 14-12 deficit. A deficit the Spartans flipped around by outscoring the Sages 21-9 in the third quarter to go ahead 33-23 by the start of the fourth quarter.
Lannert dropped in a game-high 16 points to pace SJO, one of three Spartans in double figures. Armstrong supplied 11 points and Jones added 10 points as well.
Jacob and Wells each scored five points, while Frick

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