Editor’s note: This online version has some football statistics updated with information received after the print edition went to press.
A group of sixth and fifth grade boys swept all three games at the July 12 Hokah Tournament with a combined score of 26-1. The varsity football Lions took the top honor at the annual summer football camp at the University of South Dakota.
Earlier in the week in Wisconsin, many of the same varsity boys had demolished Decorah by 36 points on the basketball court. These guys capped the week by splitting a pair of 7-on-7 football games at UW-L.
Some of the Hokah Baseball Tournament champions had previously contributed to a strong week of Little League action.
Also in summer league play, the B-team basketball boys logged another impressive victory. The summer league regular season ended for the varsity and B-team girls, both of whom enter postseason tournament action this week.
Larson Well Drilling broke away from a three-way jog jam atop the standings in men's slow pitch softball.
The varsity boys won the "king of the hill" competition at the completion of the summer tackle football camp at Vermillion, S.D. for 9-man and 8-man teams.
Last year, the Lions had won the 9-man division but lost the playoff against the 8-man champion. This year, they won it all by dethroning the two-time defending champion from Iowa.
Minnesota and South Dakota play 9-man football while Nebraska and Iowa are 8-man states. There was also a 9-man squad from Canada among the total 15 teams in attendance. The other Minnesota teams were Grand Meadow, Edgerton/Ellsworth and Westbrook-Walnut Grove.
On offense, SG worked almost exclusively on its aerial attack. In the king-of-the-hill competition, Keenan Siminski threw 22 passes with only 3 incompletions according to head coach Zach Hauser.
In praise of the offensive linemen, coach Kaare Sanness noted that Siminski was not touched while back to pass. That offensive front often included Harrison Speltz, Jordan Jaster and Tanner Sanness along with tight end Brady Schuttemeier.
There were 14 Lion players making the trek west for the annual three-day camp on the campus of the University of South Dakota.
FOOTBALL 7 on 7
One day after returning from camp, the Lions crossed another state line for another evening of all-pass, touch football in La Crosse. Coach Sanness thought the players played through some fatigue in splitting a pair of games on Sunday.
Overall, Lion quarterbacks - Siminksi (42 passes) and Chase Grinde (23 passes) combined for a 57% completion rate with 4 interceptions. The two opponents combined for 57% success, too.
Dylan Kampschroer caught a dozen passes while Dustin Vickerman snared 11. Seven different Lions had receptions including Alex Engelhardt, Gabe Solum and Brady Schuttemeier as well as both Grinde and Siminski being on the other end of a pass.
SG won the interception battle 9 to 4. Engelhardt, having caught 6 SG passes, also picked off 6 enemy aerials. Siminski, Grinde and Solum each had one interception. Kampschroer broke up 3 passes on defense, but may have been most adept on offense while breaking up what appeared to be a sure interception.
After three weeks of play, the Lions have a 4-2 record in their first year of 7-on-7 competition. The month-long summer season concludes this week.
La Crosse Logan 42, SG 32
With Siminski calling signals, SG had a 50% completion rate with much larger school Logan at 52%. The Rangers, however, had 5 touchdown tosses to none for SG. On defense, the Lions scored with 6 interceptions and 2 break-ups. Logan came up with 3 pick-offs and 3 break-ups.
SG 43, Melrose-Mindoro 42
SG was on offense for the final series while attaining the slimmest margin of victory.
Siminski shared passing duty with Grinde. SG success improved with both teams completing 62%. SG had only 2 of 37 passes picked off while Lion defenders intercepted 3 M-M aerials.
It is all passing touch football (one hand below the neck). The quarterback must throw the ball within four seconds. The offense scores points not only with touchdowns but also with completions of at least five yards or more. The defense scores by breaking up or intercepting a pass as well as when the quarterback fails to pass within four seconds.
Three teams came in sharing the league lead; only Larson Well Drilling left the field still on top. Larson run ruled co-leader Steuart Labs 20-8. Soland Carpentry also slipped from leadership with a run-rule upset loss to Spring Grove Legion.
On the Crunchy Side 18
Mabel Liquor Store 12
Crunchy scored the first 11 runs but led only 14-11 after five innings. Rick Aske hit a grand slam home run during an 8-run Mabel Liquor rally. It was his second round tripper in two innings as his team battled back.
But Crunchy scored four of the game's final five runs. Dalton Woellert hit a solo homer for the winning team. The teams have now split their two-game league series.
Larson Well Drilling 20
Steuart Labs 8
The luster was quickly removed from this first-place showdown as Larson Well opened with a 10-run first frame highlighted by a Riley Austin grand slam.
Steuart had clawed back within five runs (13-8) in the top of the fifth. But the game ended early in the bottom of the inning with the run rule after a 3-run fence-clearing blast by Paul Tollefsrud.
Marti Lesnar hit a home run for Steuart. Last week's coverage failed to include a homer by Dustin Bunke.
It was the second loss of the season for Steuart, both coming against Larson Well Drilling.
Spring Grove Legion 19
Soland Carpentry 6
With only one previous win, the Legion rather surprisingly ousted Soland from a share of the league lead. Soland took an early 2-0 edge before Legion came to bat, but Legion led 13-2 after two innings. The run rule ended it after five innings.
Iver Otterness had lifted a 3-run stroke over the fence as Legion went up 13-5 in the third. Legion avenged a season-opening setback versus Soland.
Larson Well 5-1
Steuart Labs 4-2
SG Legion 2-4
Crunchy Side 2-4
Mabel Liquor 1-5
6th/5th GRADE BASEBALL
This younger group of Little League players overwhelmed three other teams at a tournament in Hokah on Saturday. The Lion pitchers limited the opponents to only 3 total hits in three games. The SG defense allowed only one run, and that tally was unearned.
SG 7, La Crescent 0
Chandler Bergrud tossed the 2-hit shutout accomplishing 11 of the 15 outs with strikeouts while walking only two.
The Lions scored 7 runs with 5 hits - all singles by Bergrud, Caleb Nerstad, Alan Michels, Payton Leahy and Caden Grinde.
LaC 000 00 - 0 2 4 (4 LOB)
SG 133 0x - 7 5 2 (5 LOB)
SG 9, Hokah (team 2) 1
Carter Bratland and Nerstad combined to pitch a one-hitter. Bratland fanned 5 in only 2 innings while Nerstad struck out 2.
Bratland batted 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles while Nerstad hit 3 for 4 with another 2-bagger.
Garrett Bergrud batted 2 for 2 with a triple. Payton Leahy went 2 for 2 with a double.
Overall, 6 of the 11 hits went for extra bases including a home run from Chandler Bergrud.
SG scored first and later broke a 1-1 tie with Garrett Bergrud's triple and a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Isaac Griffin.
It was a tight 2-1 game until SG exploded for 5 runs in the fourth inning.
SG 101 52 - 9 11 1 (7 LOB)
Hk 100 00 - 1 1 2 (5 LOB)
SG 10, Hokah (Team 1) 0
Griffin pitched the 3-inning no-hitter that ended early with the run rule. Griffin got 6 of the 9 outs with strikeouts while issuing only one walk.
Gengler batted 2 for 2; Chandler Bergrud went 2 for 3 including a triple while driving in 4 runs. Grinde, Nerstad and Garrett Bergrud also contributed base hits.
Jakob Myrah more than once drew applause for his play in the outfield. He had an unusual day at the plate appearing 5 times but drawing 4 walks and coming around to score each time.
SG 055 -10 7 2 (2 LOB)
Hk 000 - 0 0 4 (2 LOB)
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
SG 8, Houston 4
Each team had 4 hits, but the Lions had both the extra-base hits - triples from Caleb Nerstad and Alex Folz. And SG committed only one error while taking advantage of 6 Houston miscues.
The other two SG hits came from Nic Peterson and Kyle Hagen.
On the mound, starter Chandler Bergrud (5K, 1W) and winning pitcher Folz (8K, 0W) combined to strike out 13 Hurricane batters while walking only one.
SG has won both league games versus Houston.
SG 112 40 - 8 4 1 (2 LOB)
Hou 202 00 - 4 4 6 (0 LOB)
In the second participation contest, the 'Canes posted a 4-0 shutout. Pitchers, Isaac Gengler (3K) and Isaac Griffin (3K), limited Houston to only 3 hits, but the Lions managed only 2 hits. Hitting safely were Chandler Bergrud and Carter Bratland.
The defensive highlight was an unassisted double play at shortstop by Griffin.
Hokah 1, SG 0
It was a pitchers' duel between Hokah's Alex Alfson and Lion Chandler Bergrud. Alfson struck out 11 batters and walked only 3. Bergrud fanned 10 without issuing a walk.
Hokah bunched 3 of its 5 hits into the second inning to score the game's only run. Bergrud pitched out of the jam with a pair of inning-ending strikeouts.
The Lions managed only 2 hits, singles by Peterson and Folz. SG stranded 7 runners on base, but only two advanced as far as third base.
There was only one error in the game, a Hokah miscue in the final fifth inning. Combined with the hit by Folz, that error helped SG get the tying run to third base. But Alfson survived by ending the game with his 11th strikeout.
Hk 010 00 - 1 5 1 (4 LOB)
SG 000 00 - 0 2 0 (7 LOB)
SG 5, Hokah 4
The Lions came back to take the second game of a double header in another one-run contest, but this was a non-league game.
SG sailed into the final inning with a 5-0 lead. But the visitors crowded 4 of their 5 hits into the finale to create a nail-biter. The tying run was on base with two outs when Bratland went to the mound to earn the save with only one pitch resulting in a ground out to first base.
Folz picked up the pitching win with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks during 3 innings on the mound. In relief, Nerstad fanned 5 and walked only one.
The Lion mound staff was backed by an errorless defense while Hokah committed 3 errors.
SG outhit Hokah 6 to 4. Lead-off batter Peterson went 2 for 2 and scored twice. Other hits were provided by Nerstad, Folz, Hagen and Chandler Bergrud.
Hokah's Isaac Petersen was the pitcher of record despite striking out 8 and walking none,
SG improved to 6-4 including a 3-2 record in league games.
Hk 000 04 - 4 4 3 (3 LOB)
SG 203 0x - 5 6 0 (1 LOB)
The younger players also played (simultaneously) a participation twin bill with Hokah winning both games. Hokah broke a tie score with 2 runs in the final sixth inning to win 6-4. The Lions had rallied with 3 runs in the fifth to pull even.
Lion base hits came from Reid Bjerke (double), Alan Michels, Wyatt Murphy and Jakob Myrah.
Caden Grinde pitched getting 15 of the 18 outs with strikeouts while walking only 3.
SG scored 4 runs on 4 hits with the help of 3 Hokah errors. The Lions left 7 runners on base. SG committed only one error in 6 innings.
Hokah controlled the second game 12-0. Murphy, Michels and Isaac Griffin all had base hits for SG. On the mound for the Lions, Myrah struck out 11 Hokah batters.
VARSITY GIRLS BASKETBALL
The varsity girls rebounded from a disappointing first game loss to prevail in a back-and-forth nightcap. The Lions finished the regular league season with a 3-5 record. The Viterbo league playoffs begin this week.
Prairie du Chien 46, SG 12
Not much went well for the Lion offense especially while scoring only one point in the second half. SG faced a full court press most of the game.
SG 38, La Crosse Logan 31
It was a game of runs. SG scored first and then saw the Rangers run off 11 straight points. With their first three baskets coming from 3-point range, the Lions replied with an 8-point run to tie at 11-all. Then Logan scored the next 7 points before SG launched a 6-1 spurt. Logan led at halftime 22-19.
The Lions trailed 27-21 before winning the game with a 17-2 scoring spree. With a 38-31 lead, SG went into a delay offense, and Logan was forced to foul. The Lions left the door open by missing 5 straight free throws down the stretch. But after three times missing the front ends of 1-and-1 opportunities, the Lions got the rebound each time denying the Rangers any scoring chances.
SG displayed a balanced half court attack scoring 17 points inside and 16 points from the perimeter.
B-TEAM GIRLS BASKETBALL
Boscobel 40, SG 18
The Lions led early 5-2 before the Bulldogs scored the next 15 points. Boscobel outscored SG 20-9 in both halves.
Onalaska Luther 34, SG 25
The B-team girls stepped up their offense, but Luther handled the full- court pressure too well to lose the lead. Down 20-12 at halftime, the Lions were outscored only 14-13 during the second half.
VARSITY BOYS BASKETBALL
SG 73, Decorah 37
The Lions decimated Decorah with a disciplined and efficient attack. It was primarily a half court game. SG attacked with a furious and frequently flawless pace. The Lions shot well. They worked hard to penetrate with the dribble and finished inside even with difficult shots. And they bombarded the Viking defense with 8 three-point field goals.
Down 39-17, the Vikings came out of halftime with an effective offense of their own - for a while. But Decorah could never slow down the Lion scoring machine.
It is not often that a team scores as many as 73 points in a running-clock 40-minute game especially without a flood of fast break points and especially against a quality opponent.
The Lion varsity improved to 8-3 for the summer including a 3-1 league mark.
B-TEAM BOYS BASKETB ALL
SG 56, Tomah (IV) 38
The Lions led throughout with the lead increasing as the game progressed - to 20 points before the Timberwolves scored the last basket.
"We adjusted well to what they were doing on offense," said coach Dave Konz. "They were running five-out and cutting. We took away their cuts and made them take outside shots.
"We moved the ball well, got good shots." He also complimented the Lions' offensive rebounding.
With their second win over Tomah, the B-team boys improved to their summer record to 9-2.