Josh Olerud floats in for two of his game-high 16 points in the sub-section opener against Schaeffer Academy
Josh Olerud floats in for two of his game-high 16 points in the sub-section opener against Schaeffer Academy
Third-seeded Spring Grove overcame visiting sixth-seed Schaeffer Academy 81-73 in Sub-section 1A-East quarterfinal action on Feb. 28.

Just as the Herald was going to press, the Lions (21-7) fell to no. 2 seed Lanesboro in the semi-finals, 80-59. Look for complete details in next week's Herald.

Quarterfinal: SG vs. Schaeffer

Five Spring Grove players finished in double figures while two others added nine and seven points. The Grove guys sank seven treys and drained 28 free throws along the way, overcoming a 10-bucket advantage that the Lions of Rochester scored from two-point range.

It was the closest of the nine games in the Lions-versus-Lions series. After six lead changes in the first half, SA was down by nine points before scoring 12 of the final 15 points of the first half to tie the score for a fifth time (at 28 all) heading into halftime.

Spring Grove trailed 32-30 before Dustin Vickerman began his own personal 7-point run with a dribble drive, a fast-break basket and his only three-point offering of the game. "He gave us a spark," coach Wade Grinde said later.

Chase Grinde promptly tossed in a trey to put SG up by eight. After that eighth lead change, SG would lead the rest of the way but would also see that 8-point margin all but evaporate. A little later in the second half, SA scored on six straight possessions and was only down by one point (46-45).

Both teams shot a hot 50% from the field while combining for 98 points during the second half, but SG was also parading to the foul line and did not have a turnover during its first 24 possessions of the second period. SG had only 4 second-half turnovers and finished with fewer overall (14) than SA (19).

Grove's greatest margin was 13 points (64-51). It came with a driving three-point play by Brady Schuttemeier with about seven minutes remaining, but SA bounced back to within five points with 0:50 on the clock.

Up by 9 with 1:47 left to play, SG went into a delay offense. Josh Olerud and Blaine Storlie then combined to hit 8 of 11 free throws in the final 1:35. Two of those misses were rebounded by Brandon Schuttemeier and Alex Engelhardt - forcing SA to foul again.

After hitting only 7 of 14 free throws in the first half, the Grove guys sank 21 of 29 in the second period. Those 28 made foul shots on 43 attempts were both season highs and allowed SG to overcome Schaeffer's 61 to 53 advantage from the field. SA hit a strong 75% at the foul line (12 of 16).

Three-point shots were also critical as 6 of Spring Grove's 7 treys came during the second half. In the first period, SG scored nearly half of its points (13) with dribble drives while attempting only 3 three-pointers (1 for 3).

After the break, the drives continued (18 more points), but the boys also began to shoot from the perimeter as well. They wound up hitting 7 of 12 triples on the night. That 58% accuracy was Spring Grove's second best of the season, exactly one week after the season high 60% at Cotter.

Olerud repeatedly drove inside, leading to a team-high 16 points including a 10-for-12 performance from the foul line.

Storlie shot 2 for 5 both inside and outside the arc, finishing with 15 points. The senior point guard had the dazzler of the day with a smooth fake-pass-and-score transition bucket.

Brandon Schuttemeier added 13 points and 6 rebounds. The noise level exploded when the 6-foot, 1-inch, 250-pound center stole an inbounds pass at the half-line and took it in to tie the score at 10.

Engelhardt was 2 for 2 beyond the arc while scoring 11 points. He was the only local Lion with more assists (4) then turnovers (1).

Chase Grinde also dropped in a pair of three-balls while scoring 10 points and matching a career high with 4 assists.

Vickerman added 9 points and had 2 key defensive rebounds as SA tried to mount a late rally.

Brady Schuttemeier matched his older brother's team-best 6 rebounds while scoring 7 points and lifting a career-high 5 steals.

In a brief appearance, freshman defender Gabe Solum took the home team's only charge.

Schaeffer's 36 to 28 rebounding margin resulted in 18 more shots. With 17 offensive boards, the visitors scored 18 points with put-backs. SG had managed to out-rebound SA in their previous two games, but the big-city boys' height advantage paid off this time. All five Schaeffer starters were between 6-2 and 6-4 with 6-4, 5-11 and 5-10 players coming off the bench.

SA depended heavily on Nathan Hanson, who scored 33 points along with 13 rebounds in the final game of his Schaeffer career.

The 6-2 senior did not attempt a three-point field goal but scored in every other way, including a trio of traditional three-point plays.

He was difficult to guard while bringing the ball down the floor against the full-court pressure defense, and was also able to play inside or outside in the half-court offense.

From the perimeter, Hanson scored on five dribble drives. He scored four times when receiving passes into the post. If his first shot did not go in, Hanson often scored with an offensive rebound.

He had 8 offensive boards, all of which eventually resulted in a basket or free throws or both. Adding in a fast-break basket, the game-leading guard hit 13 of 20 shots from the field and 7 of 8 free throws.

Hanson's heroics were no real surprise as he came in averaging 21.6 points per game. He scored 25 and 21 points in the two previous games this season against SG.

Junior Joe Vaughn, SA's second leading scorer on the season (12.4 ppg), did not score, but senior Luke Harris had 14 points. With Schaeffer forced to foul late, Harris fouled out with 1:35 to play.

SG persevered through foul trouble in the first half with five of the seven-player rotation picking up two fouls each; two finished with four fouls.

SG had won the previous eight games in the series by an average score of 86-48 including this season's 83-57 win at Rochester and a 91-72 decision at SG. But this is the first winning season (14-11, 11-7 SEC) for an improving Schaeffer program in its fourth year of competition in the SEC.