BY JIM COTTER email@example.com
---- — ST. JOSEPH — In what will be a preview of the upcoming Leader Classic, the St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans used a strong second half to down the visiting Westville Tigers 70-39 in a non-conference game on Wednesday evening in St. Joseph.
The Tigers, who kept up with the Spartans for the majority of the game, trailed by a single point 15-14 at the end of the first quarter, but lost ground in the second quarter, en route to a 31-20 halftime deficit.
Still, Tigers head coach Jeff Millis was pleased for the most part with his team’s effort on the evening.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy tonight, played very hard, and also got after it defensively tonight,” Millis said after the game, assessing his team’s performance.
“Obviously we didn’t have an answer for the (Brent) Schluter kid,” Millis said, when talking about the Spartans big man. “I thought we played much harder tonight than we did last night (a 51-47 overtime loss to Villa Grove-Heritage), and I was very disappointed with our energy level and effort in that game.”
With the annual SJO Leader Classic on the horizon next week, the Tigers will see St. Joseph-Ogden again, taking on the host Spartans Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m.
“Obviously they are a quality ball team, they are very well coached, and they do everything fundamentally sound with a lot of good athletes. We will definitely have our hands full with them, and will need to do something different in order to stop them,” Millis said.
Jeffrey Thompson led the Tigers in scoring with 12 points, while Kyle Brazas added 11. Westville, who was perfect from the charity stripe, making all 7 of their attempts, falls to 2-2 with the loss.
St. Joseph-Ogden, who improves to 5-0 on the season, was led in scoring by Hunter Hart, who had a game-high 19 points. Brent Schluter added 18 points, while senior Nate Michael poured in 14 for the Spartans, who made 20 of 24 free throw attempts.
Spartan coach Brian Brooks was rather disappointed with his team’s effort and sense of urgency, and gave Westville plenty of credit in that regard.
“We’re not playing with the kind of energy that we’re accustomed to,” Brooks said after the game. “The staple of our team’s identity has always been about ball pressure and putting pressure on teams, and we haven’t really done that yet.”
Westville will begin play in the aforementioned Leader Classic on Saturday, when they will play twice. The Tigers will face the Olympia Spartans in White Pool play at 12:30 p.m., and then will have a little break before taking on the Fisher Bunnies at 6:30 p.m.
Jim Cotter is a freelance writer for the Commercial-News, and can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org