Girls celebrate three wins, fourth consecutive crown
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 5:16 AM
Three games in as many days didn't slow the Spring Grove girls basketball team, which finished the week 3-0 against Southeast Conference (SEC) and Three River Conference foes, clinching a fourth straight SEC Eastern Division championship while also extending the Lions' conference winning streak to 68 games.
Randi Mehus (left) and Mabel-Canton’s Abby Hanson await referee’s call after floor scuffle for loose ball.
SG at Fillmore Central
The Lions used sharp shooting from the outside on Jan. 31, as well as some well-executed defensive pressure to defeat the Falcons in Harmony, 65-50.
Spring Grove outshot FC from the field (40% to 34%) including a solid 32% from beyond the three-point arc (6 for 19) against the home team's zone defense. By contrast, the Falcons missed all seven of their three-point attempts.
FC scored the first four points, but a 9-2 run gave SG a 15-8 lead, and the Falcons would never catch up. The Lions led by as many as 14 points in the first half before FC got back within nine (33-24) at the break.
The closest that Fillmore Central would get in the second half was seven points (47-40), but Randi Mehus replied immediately with a three-point basket. It would be double-digit margins the rest of the way.
Lion scoring was balanced with five players scoring between 9 and 15 points. Nicki Ellingson had a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Mehus scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half as the Lions maintained their lead. The senior guard also had 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Addison Cross, buoyed by 3 three-point baskets, scored all 13 of her points in the first half while the Lions were taking a lead they would not relinquish. The senior point guard missed some action due to foul trouble but still had 7 rebounds and 3 assists with no turnovers.
Samantha Bratland and Julianna Sand each added 9 points off the bench. Aly Folz scored 4 points, and with 7 rebounds, helped the Lions out-rebound the Falcons 38 to 30.
Nikki Hansen suffered a broken nose but returned to finish with 4 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
Percentage-wise, Spring Grove did not shoot as well from the free throw line as the Falcons, but the Lions still had a one-point (13-12) scoring edge by getting to the line eight more times.
The Lions committed 19 turnovers, more than their goal of 15 or fewer. Seven different Lions were credited with steals as the Spring Grove full-court defense forced 13 of the Falcons' 21 turnovers.
Falcon sophomore guard Morgan Malley shared game scoring honors with 15 points along with 10 rebounds. Sophomore Leah Scheevel was also in double figures with 10 points. The Falcons played only one senior along with four sophomores, one freshman and an eighth grader.
It was the Lions' eighth straight win in a series they lead 17 to 10. The Falcon freshmen won the B-team game 34-25.
SG versus LeRoy-Ostrander
On Friday, the Lions clinched the outright SEC East championship as the girls completed a season sweep of LeRoy-Ostrander 65-45, featuring double-doubles from both Ellingson and Mehus.
Ellingson dominated inside and had her double-double performance assured before halftime. The junior center finished with two new career highs - 23 points and 16 rebounds.
Mehus was 7 for 7 at the free throw line and dropped in a pair of three pointers while scoring 15 points along with 4 assists and a career-best 11 rebounds.
Bratland scored 11 points and passed out 3 assists. Her 7 rebounds helped the Lions to a 46 to 33 advantage under the glass. Cross scored another 11 points and blocked 2 shots. Sand also rejected a pair of Cardinal shots.
Hansen didn't let what turned out to be a broken nose from the previous game slow her down, adding 2 points and leading the Lions with 3 steals and 5 assists (with only one turnover).
"What I really like is our balance," head coach Russell Larson told KFIL radio. "I think we have room for improvement, but I think we're finally getting there."
L-O came prepared to face the Lion full-court pressure defense and committed only 17 turnovers compared to 30 in an earlier loss to Spring Grove, The Lions lost possession 18 times.
It appeared to be a blowout as the Lions bolted out to a 14-2 lead, but L-O quickly cut the margin in half. A 16-2 run then helped SG take 40-25 lead into halftime.
L-O rallied back to within eight points (45-37) in the second half before a 12-2 Lion run assured the Lions' 13th straight victory in a series they lead 45 to 11.
Both teams had almost the same shooting percentages from the field as they had in the Lions' 71-34 win a month previous. In the rematch, the Cards shot only 27% including 24% with three-point attempts (6 for 25). Spring Grove shot 38% overall and hit 3 of 11 trey attempts (27%).
The Lions shot twice as many free throws and made 11 more (18 for 26) than did the visitors (7 for 13). Two Cardinals fouled out.
Senior Jessica Jennings led L-O scoring with 18 points while senior Anna Miller had 10 rebounds.
L-O, the defending West Division champion, slipped to 8-13 overall and 7-7 in the conference.
Spring Grove's B-team defeated L-O 51-25, completing its own season sweep of the Cardinals.
SG versus Mabel-Canton
The Lions defeated the Cougars 75-45 before an appreciative Feb. 2 home-court crowd. Cougars fans also encouraged their girls unto the end of a make-up game originally scheduled for Jan. 29.
Spring Grove raced off to a 14-4 lead and started the second half with a 23-7 run. That settled any doubts, since the Lions led 48-26 at the break.
The Cougars were able to play on equal terms for much of the night but could not get enough defensive stops to cut into the deficit on the scoreboard. M-C shot a good 41% from the field but was plagued by fouls and turnovers from the outset.
While The Lions went through their first 22 possessions without a turnover, the Cougars had 22 turnovers in the first half against an aggressive Spring Grove full-court press and half-court man-to-man defense. M-C fared better in the second half with 10 turnovers against two Lion zone defenses.
Just a minute and 20 seconds into the game, two Cougar starters had gone to the bench with two fouls each. The Lions were shooting one-and-one bonus free throws after only four and half minutes of play.
Spring Grove scored 17 points at the foul line (17 for 28) while allowing the Cougars only five trips to the charity stripe where they sank only 2 of 8 free throws.
The Lions shot well from everywhere, matching their season-high 55% from three-point range (6 for 11 by four different players). They sank a good but lower percentage (43%) from closer in.
Once again, Spring Grove was balanced with five Lions scoring in double figures and six players pulling down between 3 and 6 rebounds each. Four Lion ladies had more assists than turnovers while five had at least 3 steals.
Cross went 3 for 3 beyond the three-point arc to take scoring honors with 18 points. The senior guard also had 5 rebounds and a game-high 5 steals along with 2 assists.
Bratland put in 14 points, and with 6 rebounds, shared game backboard honors with two Cougars. The sophomore forward also had 3 assists with only one turnover.
Sand was credited with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and a blocked shot. Mehus added another 11 points along with 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists.
Ellingson battled through early fouls to contribute another 11 points. Folz had an impressive all-around performance with 8 points and 5 rebounds to go with career-high totals of 4 steals and 4 assists.
Hansen added one point along with a solid floor game resulting in 4 steals, 4 assists and a blocked shot. Kailee Bjerke came in late to add 3 points and 3 rebounds.
The Cougars competed best on the boards. Each team totaled an identical 11 offensive and 19 defensive rebounds.
Junior guard Lydia Geving battled foul trouble but still led M-C scorers with 14 points along with 6 rebounds.
Senior forward Christy Welscher, also suffering foul problems, finished with 8 points and another 6 rebounds. Sara Lind added another 8 points and 5 rebounds while eighth-grade guard Coranda Vickerman passed out 6 assists.
Including an earlier 61-35 win at M-C, the Lions improved to 16-6 (14-0 SEC) while the Cougars left at 10-8 (6-7 SEC). Spring Grove leads the all-time series 48 to 43 after winning the last 14 games.
The Lion B-team (13-6) won easily 68-26 with all five players scoring between 8 and 14 points.
Up Next: The Lions are scheduled to travel to Houston on Thursday, Feb. 7. The following night, they have another road contest, this time at Rochester versus Schaeffer Academy.
Tuesday, Feb. 12 features a game at Lanesboro, and the regular season ends with a Feb. 15th home date versus Hope Lutheran.
Southeast Conference 2013
GIRLS Basketball conf. season
EAST DIVISION W L W L
Spring Grove * 14- 0 16 - 6
Hope Lutheran 8 - 6 14 - 6
Mabel-Canton 6 - 7 10 - 8
Lanesboro 5 - 8 6 -13
Houston 3 - 9 4 -13
*clinched division championship
Lyle/Pacelli 11- 2 17 - 2
Grand Meadow 10 -4 11 - 8
LeRoy-Ostrander 7 - 7 8 -13
Schaeffer Academy 3 -11 6 -14
Glenville-Emmons 0 -13 1 -16