December 4, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Pence breaks scoring record; SJO boys’ basketball runs win streak to 10

The past two weeks have seen nothing but success for the St. Joseph-Ogden High School boys’ basketball team.


Individually and team-wise.


Good timing, too.


The Spartans carry a 10-game win streak into Tuesday night’s regular-season finale against Paxton-Buckley-Loda. And they also carry the program’s all-time leading scorer on their roster.


Senior guard Ty Pence established the new standard for most points in SJO boys’ basketball history when he surpassed Brandon Trimble’s previous record of 2,115 career points during SJO’s 68-55 home win against Bloomington Central Catholic on Jan. 31.


Pence now carries 2,222 career points into Tuesday night’s regular-season and Illini Prairie Conference final against PBL.


Here’s how the Spartans have put together their five most recent wins, with SJO compiling a 24-4 overall record and 6-2 mark in league play entering Tuesday night:

Spartans top rival Rockets
Pence produced 24 points during SJO’s 68-47 home Illini Prairie win against Unity this past Friday night in St. Joseph, with the Spartans honoring members of the 2012-13 team that placed fourth in the state in Class 2A and took the program to its first state tournament appearance.


Pence was an efficient 10 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 6 from three-point range, and added nine rebounds.


Junior guard Logan Smith had a steady all-around game with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists to complement Pence.


Junior guard Tanner Jacob, sophomore guard Coy Taylor and sophomore guard Tanner Siems all finished with seven points apiece, with Taylor adding four rebounds and three assists.


Senior guard Maddux Carter (six points), junior forward Caleb Ochs (two points) and senior guard McGwire Atwood (one point) rounded out the scoring for SJO.

SJO rolls by Westville
Four players finished in double figures as SJO put up a season-best point total during its 90-34 nonconference win at Westville this past Wednesday night.


Sophomore guard Collin Thomey led the way with a team-high 18 points, making 7 of 10 shots from the field and 3 of 4 from three-point range.


Siems was instrumental, too, with 17 points and seven rebounds. Carter also pitched in 17 points, making 3 of 6 from beyond the three-point line.


Pence (10 points, six rebounds, four assists), Jacob (nine points, five assists), Smith (seven points, four rebounds) and sophomore forward Kendrick Johnson (six points) also had meaningful contributions Sophomore guard Kyler Swanson and Atwood each chipped in two points.

Spartans cruise past Rantoul
The Spartans racked up another double-digit victory on the road last Tuesday night, defeating host Rantoul 64-38 in Illini Prairie action.


Pence scored 20 points to lead SJO, making 7 of 13 shots from the field. He also was 3 off 6 from three-point range and made all three of his free throw attempts on top of grabbing 12 rebounds and handing out three assists.


Siems (10 points, five rebounds) and Jacob (10 points) joined Pence in double figures. Pence was effective in multiple areas, scoring nine points, hauling in five rebounds and distributing six assists.
Carter (nine points), Atwood (three points) and Ochs (three points) also contributed.

SJO wins in Illini Prairie-Sangamo Shootout
The Spartans made the trip to Williamsville on Feb. 4 to participate in the Illini Prairie-Sangamo Shooutout and came home with a 78-57 win against Auburn.


Pence hit the 40-point mark for the second straight game, scoring exactly 40 points. He was 11 of 26 from the field, including 6 of 11 from three-point range, and was 12 of 14 at the free throw line. He also added nine rebounds.


Smith finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, while a trio of Spartans — Taylor, Siems and Jacob — each had five points. Taylor chipped in seven rebounds, too.


Ochs (four points, four rebounds), Atwood (two points, six rebounds, three assists), Thomey (two points) and sophomore forward Logan Lackey (two points) also got in on the fun in a nonconference win.

Pence sets scoring mark in win against BCC
Needing 29 points to top Trimble’s scoring record, Pence went well beyond that during the Spartans’ 68-55 home win against Bloomington Central Catholic on Jan. 31.


Pence went off for a whopping 41 points and did so in an efficient manner. He made 15 of 25 shots from the field and was 5 of 11 from three-point range to go along with making 6 of 7 free throws. Trimble, a 2017 SJO graduate who helped the Spartans win the Class 2A state championship by playing alongside Pence’s older brother, Jake, compiled 2,115 career and is now second all-time in program history. Ty Pence and Trimble are the only two Spartans to top 2,000 career points.


Siems and Taylor nearly hit double figures against BCC, with Siems compiling nine points and four rebounds. Taylor had eight points.


Jacob (four points, 10 rebounds, four assists), Smith (four points, four assists) and Atwood (two points, four rebounds) were also vital for the Spartans in the win.

What’s next
Tuesday night’s home game against PBL — set for a 7:30 p.m. tip in St. Joseph — concludes the regular season for SJO and concludes a stretch where the Spartans have played 13 games in the past 30 days.
SJO will then get some time off before it opens postseason play. The Spartans are a No. 2 seed in the Herscher Sectional, but will start their Class 2A postseason journey in Bismarck. SJO will face either No. 10 Hoopeston Area or No. 7 Oakwood at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22 in a regional semifinal game in Bismarck. Hoopeston Area and Oakwood are set to play in a regional quarterfinal game at a time to be determined on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Oakwood.


The other regional semifinal game in the Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin Regional pits No. 3 Unity against either No. 6 BHRA or No. 11 Westville at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22. BHRA hosts Westville in a regional quarterfinal game on Feb. 18.


The two regional semifinal winners will meet for the regional championship game, set for a 7 p.m. tip on Friday, Feb. 24 in Bismarck. SJO has played four of the five other teams in the regional, defeating Unity 67-48 on Feb. 10 in St. Joseph, BHRA 66-52 on Dec. 20 in Bismarck, Oakwood 66-31 on Dec. 3 in St. Joseph and Westville 90-38 on Feb. 8 in Westville. SJO and Hoopeston Area have not played yet this season.

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