December 31, 2018

Sorry, no shot clock please

Jim Mattson, sports director at WEEK-TV 25, started an interesting discussion on Twitter on Friday where he posted, seemingly in frustration, that the IHSA and member schools need to adopt a shot clock for basketball games like the collegiate and professional use.

The tweet came after he witness Metamora settle into a zone defense against North Lawndale at the State Farm Classic. Rather than attack, the Phoenix held the ball and waited for the Redbirds to come out and challenge them for possession.

That wait, starting at the beginning of the second quarter, lasted for 6 minutes, 45 seconds, according to a post on Metamora’s Twitter feed. Only 4 points were scored in the quarter.

Mattson's tweet received over 900 likes and over 100 replies both supporting and in opposition to his call for timing offensive possessions.

The IHSA anticipates the shot clock will make it way into Illinois gyms in the near future. In April of 2018, Kurt Gibson, Associate Executive Director for basketball, told the Quincy Herald Whig: ".... There was a time I thought it would not happen," he said. "Now, I believe it's a matter of when, not if."

For those rallying behind the idea, they will have to wait. If the shot clock is coming to high school basketball in Illinois, it likely won't happen until the 2020-21 season. And it won't happen unless the National Federation of High School Associations approve the use as an organization. The IHSA could plow ahead and adopt a shot clock, but the IHSA would then be prohibited from voting on rules committees for the sport.

Currently, only eight states -- California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington -- use a shot clock set for 30 or 35 seconds. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association approved a 35-second shot clock for boys and girls basketball but later reversed the decision to make the switch.

When the game was conceived and the way it played today, defense is an integral part of game strategy.

Without the ability to play defense why bother playing against another team? You might as well set the clock for 8 minutes, put one team on the floor and have them shoot while the opposing team watches from the bench. Each team gets to shoot for four quarters. The team that scores the most baskets wins. After all, that's what shot-clockers want. They want to watch their team make baskets.

From my point of view, a shot clock essentially penalizes the superior team. It is a participation trophy of sorts for the team that can't play defense individually.

It is siege warfare. The zone is like a high wall, well-fortified castle around the rim. Unless you have superior technology available to attack with minimal losses, the easiest, tried and true counter strategy to a siege is waiting. You wait until your opponent leaves the comfort of his moat and creates an opening to attack.

I covered a game at The Leader Classic years ago where two teams engaged in the zone/stall strategy for almost seven minutes in the second quarter and the first few minutes into the third.

I was at first tickled at silliness as players from both team just stood with their hands down at their side, nobody threatening defensively and nobody moving to get open on offense.

Then I started panic a bit. I had no actual action photos to deliver to our client paper because, well, there was no action. Finally, I eagerly watch with fascination wondering which team would 'blink' first.

Fans were booing, very vocal and disapproving of the two coaches game of chicken. There was more action in the bleachers, spectators and parents on the edge of revolt throwing their hands up in frustration having nothing to cheer for by either team.

Still, it was kind of fun. Like gunfight in the wild west, I wanted to see who would draw first.

Probably, the only positive take away is zone/stall games are over in almost no time. There were no fouls, substitutions and timeouts to stop the game clock for more than 11 minutes of game time.

Yes, limiting possession time of the ball by a team can make the game more exciting, for fans. However, it doesn't make the players -- or the game for that matter -- any better if teams are not playing defense.

The simplest solution, and most economical, is to change the rules to motivate coaches to play man-up, match-up and press. Eliminate the zone defense.

Outlawing the zone defense would be much more fan-friendly, much more exciting with fluid match-ups on every possession. With starters running the floor more, bench players would see more playing time to keep the freshest legs attacking and defending on every play.

Forget the shot clock. Stop stalling by just saying "No" to technology and the same to the Zone defense. Basketball will be much more exciting without both.


December 30, 2018

12 exciting teams set to play in Saturday's Christie Clinic Shootout

A full day of quality basketball is in store for area prep basketball fans this Saturday at the Christie Clinic Shootout. Six games over nine-plus hours will feature exciting match-ups with top-ranked teams from around the state.

#6 Danville (4A), top-ranked Oswego East, the Galesburg Silver Streaks and the Maroons from Champaign Central are must-watch teams when the shootout tips off at noon.


St. Joseph-Ogden's Jaden Miller tries to prevent a pass by Cissna Park senior Conner Lober during second half action of the SJO-Toyota of Danville Classic championship game on December 21. The Spartans and the Timberwolves, who won this year's title, will be back in action against different opponents at SJO for the 2019 Christie Clinic Shootout on Saturday. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


The small school programs scheduled to play feature #1 Associated Press ranked Cissna Park. The Timberwolves, who won the SJO Toyota of Danville Classic title less than two weeks ago, will be back in action at St. Joseph-Ogden for a second time this season. They will face Monticello, who has gained growing the attention of the AP poll.

The host Spartans from St. Joseph-Ogden High School will take the floor against Pleasant Plains in the nightcap starting at approximately 7:30p.

The varsity contests will be held in the main gymnasium at St. Joseph-Ogden High School and JV games played at the Middle School on the southeast side of town.

Fans, family and friends can follow the Shootout on Twitter @sjosports and use the tag #sjoshootout to share photos and comments from the event.

Admission is $5. Wristbands will be good for the entire day at both both locations. Season passes will not be honored for this event. Concession will be available in the school cafeteria for spectators.

2019 Christie Clinic Shootout Schedule

12:00 PM - WATSEKA vs. MT. PULASKI
1:30 PM - DECATUR MACARTHUR vs. DANVILLE
3:00 PM - MONTICELLO vs. CISSNA PARK
4:30 PM - ALTHOFF CATHOLIC vs. CHAMPAIGN CENTRAL
6:00 PM - OSWEGO EAST vs. NORMAL COMMUNITY
7:30 PM - PLEASANT PLAINS vs. ST. JOSEPH-OGDEN




December 28, 2018

Cook leads Spartans with 27 in State Farm Classic loss

Senior Jack Cook's 27 points wasn't enough to keep the St. Joseph-Ogden's boys from suffering a heartbreaking 64-61 defeat to Rockford Lutheran at the State Farm Classic on Wednesday.

Chance Izard and Joel Orcutt each finished with 13 points. Keanen Swanson chipped in another six points and Brayden Weaver, who was 2-4 from the free throw line, was the only other Spartan to contribute with 6 points.



St. Joseph-Ogden's Jack Cook goes up for a shot around Westville's Brady Crain during the 2016 Leader Classic holiday basketball tournament. Cook led the Spartans with 27 points in the team's 2018 State Farm Classic tournament opener against Rockford Lutheran. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


The Crusaders were lead by Eric Nystrom with 27 points and Brock Guse with 15.

SJO moves to the consolation side of the bracket to face Peoria Christian at Normal West on Thursday.

December 17, 2018

We need Christmas


by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

Merchants around the world depend on the Christmas season each year for twenty to fifty percent of their yearly sales.

The travel industry from airlines to gasoline stations see a nice bump during the holidays. People are going to buy airplane tickets and buy gasoline.

Grocery stores do better during the holidays. People cook more for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. The alcohol industry does well during holidays. Wine, Beer and Bourbon Whiskey all do well normally and more so during December.

Charities and Churches enjoy December. People give more money to the church in December than any other month. People who want to give make sure their gifts are given by December 31st. Churches normally have special children and music programs during the month that increases attendance.

Counselors see a spike in activity during December. More people are depressed during the Christmas and New Year's Eve holidays than any other time of the year.

Funeral homes are busy in December and January. Check your local funeral home obituaries for last December and January and you'll be amazed at how many funerals took place.

Fitness centers and gyms across the country prepare for their biggest month of the year which is January. Millions of people will drag into their local fitness center and sign up for a twelve-month membership. About fifty percent of these people or less will only use their memberships a few times during the year but will be stuck in 12 month contracts.

Christmas is a profitable time for many it seems.

The greater value of this wonderful season comes with the opportunities of Christmas.

You have a good excuse to call or visit people. Christmas is about personal relationships and connecting to real people. The Christmas story is about a personal God who came as a real person to help real people with real needs.

Christmas is family time. Don't exclude anybody. God is inclusive. He came to love all the people of the world. There are always people who feel excluded, unloved and seem to be the rag muffin person in the family. No one is perfect. Everyone has failed in different ways.

Christmas is a different day. Stores, most restaurants, workplaces and businesses are closed on Christmas. What are you going to do? Be happy, reflect, give thanks and don't feel sorry for yourself. Take time to focus on the one that so many Christmas songs have been written about, "Christ, The Savior is born."

We need Christmas because we need The Savior of Christmas. We need peace on earth and good will to men. We need a Silent Night and a holy night. We need the Joy to the World as sung in the famed Christmas Carol. We need to know the grave is not the end. We need to have the hope of eternal life. We need help to deal with our grief and strength to face tomorrow. Jesus came to give us this and more. That's why we need him and the message of Christmas so desperately in our lives.

December 14, 2018

Spartans down Panthers at SJO Toyota of Danville Classic

St. Joseph-Ogden won and it wasn't pretty.

The Spartans dominated the first half of their SJO Toyota of Danville Classic opener against Chicago Longwood galloping to a 17 point lead at the half against in their game on Friday night. The Panthers clawed their way back to get with in six points in the second half, but could not put the brakes on the Spartans, who picked up their third W of the season with a 72-64 win.

Spartan senior Jack Cook led the way in scoring for his team with 33 points. The game-high performance was 5 points shy of his career-high 38 points against Heritage last season.


St. Joseph-Ogden senior Jack Cook dunks the ball at buzzer to give his team a 72-64 win over CICS Longwood at the SJO Toyota of Danville Classic basketball tournament on Friday.(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)


SJO also received double digit scoring from two other seniors. After a silent second quarter, Joel Orcutt scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half. Keanen Swanson chipped in 10 points.

Longwood also had three players in double figures. Damari Fonza scored a team-high 19 points for the Panthers. Senior Nurell Lacey added 15 points and Marshawn Holliday rounded out top three scorers with 10 points.

Both teams will play two tournament games on Saturday.

Longwood will face Armstrong-Potomac at 10am and finish out their day going head-to-head with the Timberwolves of Cissna Park at 4pm.

Meanwhile, the Spartans Saturday SJO Toyota of Danville Classic campaign starts at 1pm against the Oakwood Comets and will conclude in showdown against Schlarman.

Check back on Sunday afternoon for our photo gallery from the game.

December 1, 2018

Lady Comets threatened upset

Oakwood junior Aubrey Wells passes the ball

Oakwood junior Aubrey Wells passes the ball in their non-conference contest against St. Joseph-Ogden on the road Saturday, December 1. Down 37-33 at the end of the third quarter, the Comets could not keep the Spartans pulling away in the fourth quarter en route to a 52-45 win. Wells finished the contest with 4 points. Katelyn Young led the Oakwood with at game-high 20 points. See additional photos from the game here ... (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)