Alex Engelhardt drives to the basket against Parker Rosedahl of Rochester Area Home Schools.
Alex Engelhardt drives to the basket against Parker Rosedahl of Rochester Area Home Schools.
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The Spring Grove boys, Southeast Conference East Division champions, wrapped up their regular season by playing a pair of powerful non-conference opponents heading into this week's playoffs.

On Feb. 22 the Lions fell to Class AA Winona Cotter one night before downing the Rochester Area Home School Defenders in the regular season finale. At 20-6, the Lions earned only the sixth 20-win season in SG boys basketball history.

Spring Grove at Winona Cotter

The Lions were defeated 75-68 by Hiawatha Valley League Cotter despite putting on a three-point shooting clinic.

Spring Grove hit 14 of 21 shots from downtown, scoring a season-high 67% on trey attempts. Only once in Lion history has the team shot more three-balls (16 versus Kee High in 2009), and only once have they managed a higher percentage of three-point success (71% vs. Lyle-Pacelli in 2007).

Unfortunately for Spring Grove, it wasn't enough to make up for Rambler success much nearer the hoop and at the foul line. The taller team outscored the Lions 59-20 in the paint, including better than 40 points directly deposited via passes into the post.

Cotter wound up shooting 55% from the field and drew enough shooting fouls along the way to out-point Spring Grove 16 to 10 at the charity stripe.

A large, boisterous senior night crowd responded early and often as the lead changed hands 16 times in the first half. The Lions' largest lead of five points came just before a nine-point run helped Cotter go into the break ahead 42-41.

In the second half Spring Grove stayed within single-digits until the final minute, but never caught up. An Alex Engelhardt three-pointer and a pair of Brandon Schuttemeier free throws trimmed an eight-point deficit down to three with 2:32 to play.

Then the Lions had to extend the defense to chase the ball, and Cotter made them pay with a seven-point run beneath the bucket. It was the night's only double-digit spread at 75-65 before a Josh Olerud trey accounted for the final score.

Blaine Storlie hit 5 for 5 from three-point land and led Lion scoring with 25 points. He wound up 7 for 9 from the field and scored on 6 of 7 free throw tries.

Chase Grinde came off the bench to nail 3 of 5 treys for 9 points along with a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Elliott Cross came in to hit both of his shots, both triples for 6 points.

Engelhardt hit 3 of 6 three-balls scoring 13 points while matching a career high with 6 assists and only 3 turnovers.

Olerud had the other three-pointer and scored 9 points. He also led SG rebounding with 5. Brandon Schuttemeier added 4 points and rebounded 4 times. Dustin Vickerman had 2 points.

The Ramblers' 34 to 22 advantage on the backboards was the Lions' second worst rebounding deficit of the season. SG had only 3 offensive rebounds all night.

The home team had a decided height advantage with all but one of the playing rotation at 6 feet or taller. Five Rambler regulars were between 6-foot, 2-inches and 6-4.

Jon Eichman, a 6-3 senior, had a trio of game highs with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. Kyle Kerrigan, a 6-4 sophomore, scored 16 points while 6-2 junior Matt Schrupp put in 13 points.

After an 11-year hiatus, the two teams have now split their last two games with SG winning in 2012. Cotter leads the series 6 to 2. The Class AA Ramblers improved to 14-11 while the Lions left at 19-6. Cotter won the B-team game 62-37

SG versus Rochester

The Lions' hard-earned 65-51 victory came in the first meeting with Rochester Area Home School (RAHS). The Defenders arrived in Spring Grove with a 21-4 record and boast some outstanding players (eight of whom are listed on the roster at over six feet) and. RAHS is a member of the Christian Athletic League.

The Defenders shot 37% from the field and SG 36%, but the Lions sank more three-pointers and more free throws. Spring Grove had only one more field goal but outscored RAHS by seven points from the field and by seven points from the foul line.

Spring Grove hit 16 of 21 free throws (76%) while RAHS was only 9 for 19. It was nowhere near the previous night's incredible three-point extravaganza, but the Lions were still an acceptable 30% (7 for 23) from beyond the arc. The Defenders hit only 2 of 10 trey tries.

Grinde scored 16 of his Lion-high 19 points in the second half. The eighth grader sank 5 of 10 three-point shots including 3 treys during a 13-point run that put the Lions up 50-33.

Olerud was also in double figures with 11 points while passing out a game-high 5 assists with no turnovers.

The Lions' slim 32 to 31 rebounding edge was a considerable accomplishment against a decidedly taller team.

Leading the Lion charge to the glass were Brandon Schuttemeier with 9 rebounds, 6 points and his second charge in two nights, Brady Schuttemeier with 7 rebounds in addition to 8 points and Storlie with another 7 boards and 9 points.

Storlie took 2 more charges giving him 4 within 24 hours. He also had more assists (4) than turnovers as did Engelhardt with 8 points plus 2 assists and Vickerman with 4 points and 2 assists.

With their size advantage, the Defenders preferred to take the ball inside where they scored most of their points but also missed too many shots to keep up.

When facing a late 18-point deficit, RAHS began to put up long-range shots. The Defenders hit five straight baskets including their only 2 triples. That quickly trimmed a 20-point Lion lead in half, but SG went to the free throw line to close the deal with an 8-to-2 stretch run.

After falling behind 16-7 early on, RAHS had hit six straight shots to take a 19-18 lead. After six lead changes SG seized the initiative for good with a 10-to-1 run sparked by 3 steals, taking a charge and scoring on three fast breaks.

The Lions wound up outscoring the Defenders by seven points (32-25) in the first half and by seven points (33-26) in the second half.

Except for drawing a disqualifying five fouls on Elias Rosedahl, the Lions had little answer for the powerful and athletic 6-foot, 4-inch RAHS senior forward who drove, shot and rebounded his way to a game-high 22 points (nearly five points over his scoring average).

Ryan Lowe, a 6-3 senior added 18 points giving that pair 40 of the Defenders' 51 points.

Tanner Sanness had an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double as the Lions dominated the B-team game 63-27 to close the B-boys' season at 17-5 including a perfect 14-0 record against conference rivals.

Big news arrived from Lanesboro just before tip-off. It was reported that LHS had suffered an upset at the hands of Lyle/Pacelli, eliminating the Burros from the championship race. That means Spring Grove (17-1 SEC) has won a third straight outright SEC East Division championship.



Southeast Conference 2013

End regular season

BOYS Basketball conf. season

EAST DIVISION W L W L

Spring Grove* 17 - 1 19 - 5

Lanesboro 16 - 2 17 - 7

Mabel-Canton 6 - 12 6 - 19

Hope Lutheran 5 - 13 9 - 15

Houston 2 - 16 2 -23

WEST DIVISION

Grand Meadow* 14 - 4 16 - 9

Lyle/Pacelli 12 - 6 14 - 11

Schaeffer Academy 11 - 7 14 - 10

Glenville-Emmons* 4 - 14 5 - 20

LeRoy-Ostrander 3 - 15 5 -21

*division champions