Another twin-title season
for Lion cagers
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 5:46 AM
Hoops fans who like to follow the Spring Grove Lions had plenty to cheer about this season as both the girls and boys won conference crowns. It was the third straight season and fourth all-time (2005, 2011, 2012, 2013) that the Lions had captured both championships in the same season.
Spring Grove boys celebrate after clinching their third straight conference championship with home win against Hope Lutheran.
The Lion ladies returned nine letter winners from last season's first-ever trip to the state championship tournament. The team finished 23-7, winning yet another SEC (Southeast Conference) East crown and a third straight sub-section championship along the way.
Even though a few SEC opponents thought this would be the year they ended Spring Grove's remarkable run of conference victories, such was not the case.
The Lions won their fourth straight undefeated league championship, pushing their string of SEC victories to 72 and counting. None of the girls have ever played in an SEC varsity loss.
The team managed to defeat everyone they were expected to beat. They lost only to opponents where they were considered the underdog.
Two losses came to Iowa Class AAA Waukon, always a tough competitor. One loss came to AA sub-section champ Caledonia (19-7). Two other setbacks came against state-ranked Class A squads - no. 5 Goodhue and finally Faribault Bethlehem Academy, a team ranked no. 3 in the state that held true to form with the Cardinals taking third place at the state tournament.
In games that were hailed as toss-ups, Spring Grove went 4-2. All three of those match-ups that had championships on the line went to SG.
The Lions lost a game that may have been winnable to Class AA Lourdes (11-16) on a cold-shooting night.
Class AA La Crescent (7-19) was defeated by SG. Over the holidays the Lions lost to Rushford-Peterson, a team they would meet again.
With championships up for grabs, the girls managed to buckle down even more so. Spring Grove defeated Lyle/Pacelli twice to keep their undefeated streak alive and notch their fourth straight SEC East title.
An overtime game versus R-P also went to SG when the sub-section championship was on the line.
There were three close games (decided by single-digits) and Spring Grove won them all. L/P came very close in early December, but the Lions rallied from a 16-point deficit and won 65-64. The La Crescent game was decided by a margin of six (69-63). Finally, the aforementioned second R-P game went to SG by a score of 65-62.
The Lion boys also topped the 20-win mark, finishing 21-7 overall, 17-1 in conference action. That resulted in a third straight SEC East Division title for Spring Grove, their fifth in the last six years and eighth in the last decade.
The Lions fielded a young team, with one sophomore, two freshmen and one eighth-grader in their primary seven-player rotation.
Their losses were all against quality teams, and three of those setbacks were close games. Iowa Class AAA Waukon defeated Spring Grove by three, while Goodhue also edged the Lions by a trey.
Class AA Winona Cotter won by seven points. Class A state-ranked no. 7 Rushford-Peterson also defeated Spring Grove and plays in the state tournament this week.
Two losses came versus an excellent Lanesboro team, the only unranked Class A team to beat the Lions this year. But Spring Grove also defeated the Burros once.
Some other quality wins were recorded over teams such as Fillmore Central, an older, taller, and more physical opponent. A tall, talented and strong team from Rochester Area Home School visited Spring Grove late in the season and was defeated by 14.
During the last three seasons, the Lions accumulated a 39 game SEC winning streak that was finally snapped by the Burros in their second meeting.
Spring Grove averaged 74 points per game, the second highest in school history. They were also the second-best team at draining three-point field goals, finishing with 200.
The Lions shot 67.9% as a team from the foul line (third-best on record). They finished in a tie for second for earning trips to the charity stripe (22.3 per game). Those are marks of an offense that challenge opponents.
Unfortunately for Spring Grove, they gave up an average of 57 points. That's the highest figure that the Lion boys have allowed in 13 years.
Fans had to say goodbye to three talented senior boys. But a high-quality program exists for younger players, so Spring Grove should remain a force to be reckoned with.
The boys' B-team finished 17-5 overall, 15-0 in the SEC. The 8th grade team went 16-2 and was undefeated in the conference at 9-0. Seventh-graders notched a 15-1 record, 7-0 in SEC games.
The girls' varsity also included three seniors along with four juniors, four sophomores, plus a freshman, an eighth grader and a foreign exchange senior.
The girls' B-team went 16-6, 14-1 in the SEC. The eighth-grade girls finished 6-9, but went 6-3 in SEC match-ups.
Next week: The Herald will publish a full report on individual awards next week, since not all team award ceremonies have been completed as this issue goes to press.
Southeast Conf. 2013 Final
BOYS Basketball conf. season
EAST DIVISION W L W L
Spring Grove* 17 -1 21 - 7
Lanesboro 16 -2 19 - 8
Mabel-Canton 6 -12 7 -20
Hope Lutheran 5 -13 10 -16
Houston 2 -16 2 -24
Grand Meadow* 14 - 4 16 - 9
Lyle/Pacelli 12 - 6 14 -12
Schaeffer Academy 11 - 7 14 -11
Glenville-Emmons 4 -14 6 -21
LeRoy-Ostrander 3 -15 5 -22
Southeast Conf. 2013 Final
GIRLS Basketball conf. season
EAST DIVISION W L W L
Spring Grove * 18 - 0 23 - 7
Hope Lutheran 10 - 8 17 - 9
Mabel-Canton 9 - 9 13 -13
Lanesboro 6 -12 8 -19
Houston 4 -14 5 -19
Lyle/Pacelli* 16 - 2 23 - 4
Grand Meadow 13 - 5 16 -11
LeRoy-Ostrander 11 - 7 13 -14
Schaeffer Academy 3 -15 6 -19
Glenville-Emmons 0 -18 1 -24
* division champion