Young Lions hit road to repeat
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 5:00 AM
The boys from Spring Grove will hit the hardwood floor without any senior players this season. However, five of eight letter winners return from last year's squad, including two starters.
Brady Schuttemeier versus Fillmore Central
Sophomore ALEX ENGELHARDT starts again, this time at forward. The 6-foot-3 All-Conference first-teamer played guard last year, becoming the first SG freshman to make the All-SEC squad. He posted some impressive numbers during the 2012-13 campaign, averaging 11.0 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 steals.
Engelhardt was sure-handed, finishing with more assists than turnovers. He shot 40% from three-point range, 41% overall and hit 70% from the charity stripe.
Classmate BRADY SCHUTTEMEIER is listed at center after starting at forward last season. He also stands 6-3 and led the Lions in rebounds (5.8 per game) and blocked shots (13) last season. Schuttemeier shot 47% from the field, averaging 7.6 points per game, 2.0 steals and 1.2 assists.
Other returning letter winners include a trio of guards. All saw significant playing time, including junior Dustin Vickerman, sophomore Gabe Solum and freshman Chase Grinde.
VICKERMAN (6-1) averaged 6.4 points per game, 2.4 assists. One of only three Lions with more assists than turnovers last year, he won the 2012-13 Most Improved Player award in team voting.
SOLUM played in 24 of 28 varsity games last season. At 5-11, he is a quality defender and the only B-team player last year with more assists than turnovers.
GRINDE stands 6-0 and stepped up as an eighth-grader with 8.5 points per game, 1.3 assists. He also canned 36% of his tries from beyond the arc.
Other leading candidates for lots of varsity playing time include junior guard Elliott Cross, junior center Tanner Sanness, sophomore guard Dylan Kampschroer and freshman forward Jordan Jaster.
CROSS (5-11) averaged 2.4 points per game. He hit 36% of his trey tries while playing in 21 of 28 varsity games.
SANNESS checks in at 6-1. He played in 15 varsity games and was the leading rebounder on the B-team.
KAMPSCHROER (5-9) also played in 15 varsity match-ups and led the B-team in assists and steals. JASTER (5-10) saw varsity action seven times as an eighth-grader.
Five additional freshman players move up from the junior high level. They include 5-11 Brock Schuttemeier, 5-9 Devon Nerstad, 5-11 Noah Myrah, 5-4 Toby Leahy, and 5-10 Zach Rains.
The Lions finished 21-7 overall last year, 17-1 SEC. Spring Grove won its third-straight SEC East Division title (their fifth in the last six seasons and eighth in the last ten years).
Lion Head Coach Wade Grinde (310-145) has led the program since 1995. He is joined by assistants Al Lochner, Dave Konz and Chris Strinmoen. Lochner and Konz have coached together with Grinde for 18 years. SG alum Strinmoen is a former player who returned to teach mathematics. He's been part of the coaching staff for three years.
Spring Grove's season opens with a road game versus Lanesboro, so two pre-season favorites for the conference championship will square off immediately. The date is November 26; tip-off is 7:15.
"The East favorite is Lanesboro," Grinde said. "They return the reigning conference player of the year (Kole Ruud) and fellow All-Conference member Luke Rogers, both of whom are seniors. They are loaded.
"We will compete in the upper half of the league.... This is the youngest team I have coached in 19 years. Physically, we have to overcome our weaknesses with discipline and skill. I expect us to get better each week. By the end of the season, we hope to be a contender with any Section 1A team."
Lions the Last 5 Years
SG boys Basketball
2013 21-7 (17-1 SEC, 1st East)
2012* 25-3 (18-0 SEC, 1st East)
2011 19-9 (15-3 SEC, 1st East)
2010 14-12 (11-5 SEC 3rd tie)
2009 22-4 (15-1 SEC 1st)
total 101-35 (76-10 SEC)
*SG reached sub-section finals '12