Drew Sheppard battles for position

ST. JOSEPH — Logan Smith and Drew Sheppard went head-to-head on the football field earlier this school year.

Starting quarterbacks for St. Joseph-Ogden (Smith) and Monticello (Sheppard), Smith led the Spartans past Sheppard’s Sages 21-14 on Aug. 26 in Piatt County.

Friday night’s Illini Prairie Conference boys’ basketball game between the schools didn’t offer quite the same matchup.

Smith is SJ-O’s junior point guard, while Sheppard is a senior forward who typically operates in the post for Monticello.

Didn’t mean they wouldn’t run into one another throughout the evening inside the Spartans’ gymnasium. And continue battling for supremacy in a different sport.

Smith wound up with the upper hand once again, helping SJ-O to a 66-53 victory against Monticello and giving the Spartans (18-4, 3-2 Illini Prairie) their fourth consecutive win.

Smith wasn’t afraid to throw his 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame all around the court to get various jobs done versus the Sages (13-9, 2-3).

He finished with 20 points on 8 of 16 shooting from the field, hauled in eight rebounds and added two steals and one blocked shot. It was the ideal complement to senior teammate and Illinois State men’s basketball signee Ty Pence’s game-high 23 points.

The 6-3, 185-pound Sheppard put together a big first half for Monticello, turning in 13 points and nine rebounds as he consistently obtained superior inside position for loose balls in the paint.

Sheppard ultimately wound up with 16 points and 11 rebounds, sinking 12 of 17 free throws along the way. Junior guard Trey Welter stepped up in the second half and matched

Pence with 23 points. Welter delivered 15 of those points in the fourth quarter.

“Drew Sheppard got after it. I don’t know how many offensive boards he ended up with, but for a little while that was our best offense,” Monticello coach Kevin Roy said. “Drew and Trey really worked their hearts out (Friday) and busted it and did everything they could.”

It’s been an up-and-down campaign for the Sages in the immediate aftermath of last season’s Class 2A state runner-up showing.

Graduating their entire starting lineup plus their sixth man, Roy and his staff have spent the last two months learning a bit more each game about their best course toward earning wins.

Senior guard Tylor Bundy (six points, five rebounds) and junior forward Jack Weidner (two points, four rebounds) were among Monticello’s other contributors on Friday.

“Coming into here, playing the seventh (ranked) team in the state, you see their defense really affected us,” said Roy, whose team next will visit Rantoul for another Illini Prairie game on Tuesday. “They came out and jumped on us right from the start, and it was just hard for us to really recover from that.”


Prairie Central 65, Monticello 56. Dylan Bazzell’s 29-point outburst earned him a share of the Sievers Center scoring record as he keyed the Hawks (19-2) to an Illini Prairie Conference victory on the road.

The Sages (13-8) were led by Sheppard (17 points), Welter (15 points) and Raiden Colbert (12 points).

Girls basketball


Illini Prairie-Sangamo Shootout - Auburn 47, Monticello 30. Despite seven points from Isa Berry and six rebounds from Lydia Burger the host Sages (7-18) were outscored 31-15 in the second half of a nonconference loss on Saturday. Lydia Burger, Maia High, Lucy Leatherwood, and Jobi Smith each had four points for the Sages.

Burger had six rebounds, Beery collected five and Pearl Glaze and Lucy Leatherwood each had four.

Piatt County

Girls basketball


➜ Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 45, Okaw Valley 30. After dropping a Lincoln Prairie Conference Tournament first-round game to the Timberwolves last week, the Knights (15-7) went on the road Monday and gained revenge with a league win. Kailee Otto’s 19 points and seven rebounds along with Claire Seal’s double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds keyed ALAH, which picked up five points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four steals from Charley Condill.

➜ Cerro Gordo/Bement 61, Cumberland 20. Haley Garrett deposited 25 points for the visiting Broncos (17-7), who overwhelmed the Pirates in a Lincoln Prairie win. Five other CG/B athletes turned in at least four points apiece, led by 10 points from Haylei Simpson and eight points from both Caroline Hill and Skye Tieman.

➜ Decatur Lutheran 44, Blue Ridge 36. Ava Austin’s 17-point, 10-rebound double-double helped the host Knights (4-16) keep things close with the Lions in Lincoln Prairie play, but they ultimately couldn’t pull off a win. Paige Browning and Kylie Madden each provided six points for Blue Ridge, and Phoebe Reynolds tossed in five points.


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Boys baskeball

Lincoln Prairie Conference Tournament

At Argenta

➜ Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 69, Tri-County 48. Jayce Parsons scored 21 points, Wyatt Hilligoss added 15 points and Connor Nettles chipped in 10 points to lift the eighth-seeded Knights (10-12) past the 11th-seeded Titans (3-18) in a consolation quarterfinal game.

➜ Argenta-Oreana 83, Blue Ridge 39. The sixth-seeded Bombers (11-11) cruised by the 10th-seeded Blue Devils (7-16) in a consolation quarterfinal game, with Ethan Mahan scoring 19 points to lead a trio of teammates that found double figures. Tyson Oros added 11 points while Jamario Barbee and Jalynn Flowers each chipped in 10 points, while Blue Ridge was paced by dual seven-point outings from Zach Lewis and Colin Michaels.


Girls basketball

➜ Cerro Gordo/Bement 66, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 52. Three players in double figures helped Cerro Gordo/Bement knock off Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond in Lincoln Prairie Conference action in Cerro Gordo. Haley Garrett paced the Broncos (18-7) with 20 points, Caroline Hill scored 18 points and Haylei Simpson made it a trio in double figures with 17 points. Claire Seal led ALAH (15-8) with 19 points, Kailee Otto had 18 points and Charley Condill chipped in 13 points in the loss.



Lincoln Prairie Conference Tournament

➜ Argenta-Oreana 82, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 74. The host and sixth-seeded Bombers outlasted the eighth-seeded Knights by overcoming a 52-49 deficit to start the fourth quarter in a consolation semifinal game. A-O had four players in double figures, led by a team-high 20 points from Jalynn Flowers. Chase Logue sank five three-pointers — part of 13 on the night for the Bombers (12-11) — and wound up with 19 points. Jamario Barbee (16 points) and Tyson Oros (15 points) also made timely baskets when A-O needed them. The Bombers will now play fifth-seeded Arcola at 4 p.m. Saturday in the consolation championship game. Arcola defeated seventh-seeded Villa Grove 57-42 in the other consolation semifinal game on Friday night. Wyatt Hilligoss scored a game-high 31 points — reaching 1,000 career points in the process — and grabbed nine rebounds for ALAH (10-13), while Jayce Parsons finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Connor Nettles (10 points, five steals, four assists) also contributed for the Knights.



Lincoln Prairie Conference tournament

Blue Ridge 51, Heritage 50. The 10th-seeded Knights (7-17) scored the lone point in overtime to deliver a narrow Lincoln Prairie Conference victory over the ninth-seeded Hawks (6-17) in a consolation bracket game. Corbin Colbert paced Blue Ridge with 12 points, leading a charge that also saw a nine-point contribution from Colin Michaels and eight points apiece from Isaac Price and Wyatt Pearl.

Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 50, Central A&M 29. Claire Seal scored 21 points and Kailee Otto added 10 points to key the Knights (16-8) to a convincing nonconference road victory.

The 7th grade Monticello Sages won the Class 3A Regional Championship Friday. The #3 Sages defeated #1 Unity 39-31 in overtime to advance to the sectional championship on Monday night. The Sages (18-8) were schedled to play Westville (17-6) on Monday night in Hoopeston. The winner of the sectional championship will advance to the IESA state tournament. The elite 8 will be played at El Paso-Gridley High School on Saturday, Feb. 4. The winner will play at 11:30 a.m.

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LEROY — The reason for the wrestling season arrives this weekend, as the IHSA postseason action begins, with the eventual quest of all grapplers being an appearance on the podium at the State Farm Center for the state tournament on Feb. 16-18.

For Monticello High School wrestlers, it starts in LeRoy this Friday at the area Class 1A regional.

Eleven teams will be represented, with the top three from each weight class advancing to the sectional round in Clinton on Feb. 10-11. The top four there will get their chance at state hardware in Champaign.

Also at stake is a shot at the dual team title. Teams with the highest point totals at regional advance to the team sectional Feb. 21. The top two from each sectional wrestle for the team crowns Feb. 24-25 at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.

Regular season finale

MHS finished out its regular season at Oakwood, where they lost to the host team 72-6 but battled tough with Bismark-Henning before dropping the match 40-34.

Against B-H, Dawson Sheets took a win by fall in just 19 seconds at 145 lbs., while Marissa Miller also pinned her opponent early in a mere 45 seconds at 105 lbs. Drake Weeks also won by fall at 132 lbs.

Adding victories for the Sages were Gavin Ridings by majority decision (12-1) at 138 lbs., Russ Brown by decision (9-4) at 160 lbs. and Preston Bettinger by decision (14-8) at 126 lbs.

Monticello did not get a win among the matches to hit the mat versus a strong Oakwood team. Hank Dunn scored the teams points with a forfeit win at 220 lbs.

The Sages do not have any regular season matches on their schedule, as they prepare for this weekend’s regional competition.