CHAMPAIGN — If defense wins championships, the other teams in the Class 2A St. Thomas More Regional ought to take note of St. Joseph-Ogden's performance Tuesday night.
The Spartans played championship-caliber defense against Westville, holding the Tigers to two points in the first 11 minutes en route to a 72-18 win.
"I was really happy with the girls' effort on defense. I felt like they were really motivated to come out and play," SJ-O coach Brian Hatfield said. "Any time you hold someone to under 20 points, that's a pretty good effort all around."
SJ-O blocked off the interior, shut down passing lanes and frustrated the Tigers. The Spartans stole the ball 29 times, with senior Elizabeth Everingham contributing six steals.
In the first quarter, SJ-O stripped Westville of the ball eight times and converted those turnovers into a 23-2 lead. The Spartans' offense flowed from the defense, scoring in transition and passing adeptly around their opponent.
Josey Fruhling benefited most from the Spartans' free-flowing offense, scoring 22 points and recording five steals. Fellow seniors Hannah Graham and Hannah Gaylord each scored 12 points.
Westville had its best quarter in the second, but SJ-O led 39-10 at halftime. At the end of three periods, the Spartans led 62-14, so their starters watched from the bench in the fourth quarter.
The Spartans will play Bismarck-Henning on Thursday night in the regional semifinal.
"We live to play again, that's the important thing. Our kids are going to have to come out again focused and ready to guard," Hatfield said. "We hope tonight is an indicator of what might happen Thursday, but it's going to be a lot tougher. If we play like we did tonight, we have a chance of winning."
B-H rolls into semifinal. The Blue Devils, who jumped to a 26-2 lead after the first quarter, were led by Lori Haas' 14 points. Bailey Bryant (11 points) and Samantha Siddens (10) also reached double figures.
In Class 1A action
At Hume. Fourth-seeded Heritage stunned top-seeded and host Shiloh 41-38 in overtime thanks to 13 points from Dallas McCormick. Katie Lannon added 10 for the Hawks. The Raiders were led by Larissa Moses' 19 points.
Second-seeded Tuscola limited Villa Grove to eight first-half points en route to a 40-28 win in the other semifinal. The Warriors got 11 points from Erin Weaver and 10 apiece from Sammi Kohlbecker and Lisa Ponder.
At Lexington. Paige Jones scored 23 points and grabbed six boards for Ridgeview in a 40-35 win against Flanagan-Cornell.
At Macon. Four Sullivan players, led by Emily Neuhauser's 26 points, scored in double figures in the Redskins' 73-48 victory against Nokomis. Azbije Sadikoska (16), Brittin Boyer (12) and Paige Neuhauser (11) also chipped in.
At St. Anne. Iroquois West got by Milford 45-25, thanks to 11 points from Taylor Cultra and 10 from Morgan Small. Four other Raiders scored five points each.
"We played good team basketball tonight. Everyone contributed in some way. It was a great win for our team," Iroquois West coach Kristy Arie said.
Milford's Ashlen Portwood scored a game-high 13 points.