CHAMPAIGN — The senior leadership came through for St. Joseph-Ogden when it counted most in Saturday’s Sangamon Valley Conference tournament final at Parkland College.
With 31.1 seconds left and SJ-O leading 59-56, Brent Schluter scored what would be the biggest of his team-high 22 points on an and-1.
He scored 16 of his points in the fourth quarter, leading the Spartans to a 65-63 victory against Clifton Central.
“He was big and really carried us at times,” SJ-O coach Brian Brooks said. “In the fourth quarter, he had a great presence inside.”
The Spartans outscored the Comets 16-11 in the third quarter and trailed 38-37. Nate Michael scored eight of his 14 points in the period. Schluter scored three go-ahead baskets in the fourth quarter.
The teams traded leads before a pair of Schluter free throws put SJ-O up 54-53 with 3:01 left and sparked a 6-0 run by the Spartans.
Clifton Central held SJ-O to five points in the second quarter and led 28-22 at halftime.
Schluter had two first-quarter three-pointers to help keep the Spartans afloat.
“I thought the first half could have been worse for us if not for that,” Brooks said. “I was really proud of our effort in the second half, but we were fortunate to be only down six after the first half.”
PBL 54, Cissna Park 47. Even without leading scorer Drew Schrodt, the Panthers were victorious.
“I think that says a lot about our guys,” PBL coach Scot Vogel said. “We could have ducked our tail and come out flat, but they didn’t. It was an opportunity for some of our guys to step up in different roles, and they accepted the opportunity.”
PBL built a 24-21 halftime lead.
Tyler Rubarts was PBL’s leading scorer with eight points, and Johnny Walder added seven points, including two three-pointers, in the first half. Walder finished with a game-high 16 points, and Rubarts added 14.
“Tyler has ability. He just has to be aggressive,” Vogel said. “He was (Saturday night), and we needed that with Schrodt being out.”
For Cissna Park, Tyler Schuldt scored four of his six first-half points in the second quarter. He finished with six points after getting shut out in the second half. Jacob Marquez led the Timberwolves with 10 points.
“They came out with more energy than we did,” Cissna Park coach Kevin Long said. “They outhustled us on 50-50 balls and boxed us out on free throws. Did fatigue play a factor with this being our third game in three days? Sure, but everybody’s (in) the same boat.”
The Panthers increased their lead to 36-31 as Walder scored on a fast-break layup at the buzzer after a frontcourt steal, the fourth point of a 7-0 run that saw the Panthers gain a 39-31 lead. His older brother, Jeremy, had four points in the quarter.
“(That steal) was a nice little momentum play,” Vogel said. “It was nice to end the quarter like that.”
Cissna Park had the ball trailing 45-42 when PBL’s Corbin Riecks made a diving steal on a tipped pass. From there, PBL went on a game-clinching 9-5 run with all of its points scored via free throws.
“Corbin and Parker Young made some hustle plays that were key for us,” Vogel said.
St. Thomas More 70, Momence 46. Doug Wallen led the Sabers with 26 points and Clavin Davis added 10.
Watseka 53, Iroquois West 36. The Warriors outscored Iroquois West 22-9 in the third quarter to take command.
Justin Moyer led Watseka with a double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds). Will Lyznicki and Cole Davenport added a combined 25 points for the Warriors.
Wesley Grant went 4 for 4 from the field and scored a team-high eight points for the Raiders.