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Before last week’s Sangamon Valley Conference game, St. Joseph-Ogden received 12 votes in the Class 2A poll.
Although the Spartans did not crack the Top 10, they made a bold statement Friday, knocking off Paxton-Buckley-Loda 78-45.
“We don’t worry about the rankings,” SJO coach Brian Brooks said. “We don’t worry about that at all. All that matters is the teams that advance in February. I thought we came out with a good sense of urgency (Friday). I thought in the first half we got out and ran a little bit and got some easy looks. We made shots. When you make shots, things go well.”
The Spartans (2-0) got a big lift in the low post from Brent Schluter, who scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in he third quarter. SJO outscored PBL 20-11 in that quarter.
“I thought Brent Schluter really established an inside presence for us, and that was big. I thought our guards did a very good job of getting him the basketball in places where he could score, and he finished well tonight,” Brooks said.
Chase Patton scored all 10 of his points in the first quarter, including three three-pointers, to help put SJO ahead 22-14 heading into the second quarter.
“It was big to get Chase going,” Brooks said.
Dalton Walsh added a few three-pointers in the third quarter en route to finishing with 10 points.
“Coming off the bench, Walsh can put points up for us,” Brooks said. “I thought we put him in good spots to get him good looks for three-pointers.”
For PBL, the loss ended a start in which it won four of five games, including a 3-1 record and a third-place finish at the PBL/Manteno Interstate Classic.
“I was looking forward to playing this game because I wanted to see exactly where we’re at and where we needed to work, and I think it was a good eye-opening experience for our kids,” PBL coach Scot Vogel said. “We knew there’d be growing pains this year as the season went on, and this is just one of them.”
The Panthers (4-2) were led by Drew Schrodt, who scored 13 points including 10 in the first quarter.
PBL hit some scoring lulls during the game. The Panthers did not score their first points of the third quarter until a Weston Weber field goal cut the Spartans’ lead to 49-26 with less than five minutes remaining in the quarter.
“St. Joe’s always going to be fundamentally sound defensively,” Vogel said. “You’ve just got to make sure that you’re very aggressive against and you work hard against it, and I thought there were times where we forced the issue and weren’t very patient, and we just let them take us out of our offensive flow.”
Leading 33-24, SJO ended the first half on a 9-0 run to go into halftime up 42-24 — starting with a Louis Acklin three-pointer and featuring four points from Schluter, including a tip-in putback that made it 40-24.
“That’s where we’ve really got to learn as a team to buckle down and come back,” Vogel said. “If they get a score, we’ve got to come back and match them.”
Weber added eight points, seven of which were tallied in the third quarter as PBL trailed 62-35 heading into the final period.