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After a week away from the court, it didn’t seem to faze the St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans boys’ basketball team, as they began their final season in the Okaw Valley Conference with a resounding 79-49 victory over their neighboring rivals, the Unity Rockets, on Friday night at the Rocket Center in Tolono.
SJO’s Brandon Trimble, who has been the main cog in the Spartans’ wheel thus far in the season, was held in check for most of the evening, but still finished with a game-high 21 points, most of those coming in the second half.
“I thought (Jack) Cook and (Brandon) Dable were huge tonight and we are a much different team when those two are playing like that," SJO head coach Brian Brooks said of his unheralded duo.
Cook and Dable sustained the flow of the game while Trimble was double-teamed for much of the game. Both players finished with 13 points, with Dable getting 11 of his in the first half. Dable also grabbed some key rebounds, as did Cook, and another senior, Drayke Lannert, scored 10 points, all in the second quarter.
The game was relatively close for much of the first half, with the Spartans taking a slim 34-30 lead into the halftime locker room. However, SJO came out on fire in the second half, and outscored the Rockets 30-15 in the third quarter to blow a relatively close game wide open.
Regarding the four Spartan players in double figures on the evening, Brooks remarked on how beneficial it was to have some other players step up offensively.
“We talked about that, and we know that there are some other players on our team that are quite capable of scoring, and it really helped up to have Jack and Brandon (Dable) emerge as offensive threats tonight," Brooks added.
SJO (12-3, 1-0) was efficient from the foul line, making 15 of their 22 attempts on the evening. Unity, who falls to 4-5 overall and 0-1 in the Okaw, was led in scoring by Steven Migut, who had 15 points. Junior J. T. Wheeler, one of the Rockets’ main threats, was held to 12 points, after sustaining an injury in the third quarter and Not returning to the game. The Rockets shot 8-12 from the free throw line in the defeat.
The Spartans will be back on the court twice next week, both of which will be in St. Joseph. On Tuesday night SJO welcomes Villa Grove-Heritage on Tuesday night, then will take on fellow Okaw Conference foe St. Thomas More on Friday evening.