ST. JOSEPH — The St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans jumped out to a big lead early and never looked back; defeating the Oakwood Comets 82 -39 in a semifinal round game of the Class 2A Regional on Tuesday evening at St. Joseph-Odgen High School.
The Spartans scored the first 13 points of the game, led by the sizzling shooting of St. Joseph-Ogden’s Nate Michael. Michael, who only played three quarters in the lopsided win, scored 18 of his game-high 27 points in the first quarter alone, and from there, the Spartans put the brakes on for the remainder of the contest.
“I thought we came out and executed really well both offensively and defensively,” Spartans senior Brent Schluter said.
The Spartans led 48-23 at the half, and went deep into their bench, resting most of the starters for a good portion of the second half.
Michael, who set the St. Joseph-Ogden school record for 3-pointers made in a season in the game, credited his teammates for getting him the ball and working the offense around for the open shots.
“We moved the ball around and whoever got the open shot knocked it down,” Michael said. “It was good to come out with that energy for an early game.”
St. Joseph-Ogden, who improves to 25-3 with the win, starts five seniors for the most part; something that coach Brian Brooks thinks is a major key to advancing in the postseason.
“We start the five seniors and have two more come off the bench, so they have a good idea that their next loss will be their last in a Spartan uniform, so they understand the importance of coming out in the postseason focused,” Brooks said.
“They are a really talented team, and even though we contested a lot of his (Michael’s) shots, he was still hitting them and they were going in,” Oakwood head coach Doug Robinson said. “I’m extremely proud of my boys, and even when they get down as far as they did tonight, they never quit.”
Parker Lee led the Comets in scoring with 16 points, while Lee Mascari and Skyler Slade each scored 10. Slade also had four rebounds in the game, as did Oakwood’s Jeremy Watson.
“I thought we came out with good energy tonight, and, as I talked with the team in the locker room after the game, it was important that we got out to a fast start, and that’s exactly what happened,” Brooks said. “Even though we had a big lead at the half, the first four minutes of the third quarter was some of the best basketball that we played all night.”
With the win, St. Joseph-Ogden improves to 25-3 overall and moves into the championship game of the regional on Friday night, and will face Bismarck-Henning, who defeated Westville in the other semifinal game of the evening 42-33.
Besides Michael’s game-high 27, Hunter Hart scored 16 and Schluter added 14 for the Spartans, who connected on 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Oakwood went to the line 13 times, and made eight of their attempts.
Oakwood ends their season at 9-21. The Comets didn’t help themselves in the turnover department, committing 16 gaffes compared to 11 for the Spartans.