Nicki Ellingson shoots in traffic during win over Holmen.
Nicki Ellingson shoots in traffic during win over Holmen.
Annual Holiday Festival basketball action for varsity girls kicked off on Dec. 26 at Caledonia when Spring Grove fell to the host Warriors 71-52. The same venue featured Spring Grove's 51-48 victory over Holmen on Dec 28.

Spring Grove at Caledonia

A disastrous first half put the game out of reach for the Lions as the Warriors handed SG its second loss of the year,

It was back and forth early on with four lead changes and Caledonia leading only 20-17 before the roof caved in. Facing an energetic Caledonia press, SG suffered 8 turnovers in their final 12 possessions of the first half.

Meanwhile, the Warriors scored on 12 of their last 16 first-half possessions (including 3 three-pointers) and had SG doubled up 46-23 at halftime. It was the first time in three seasons (90 games) that the SG girls have given up that many points in the first half.

The Lions shot reasonably well in the first half (39%) but had 15 turnovers. Cal shot 48% in the first half including 6-for-15 (40%) from beyond the arc.

After having their man defense ripped by a half dozen 3-point baskets and shredded by 6 dribble-drive scores in the first half, the Lions switched to a zone defense in the second half. That move did not keep the Warriors from attempting threes but did stop the dribble drives. Caledonia did not shoot as well in the second half, hitting only 3 of 13 treys.

With Caledonia dropping the full-court defense and not shooting quite as well, SG outscored the Warriors 29-25 in the second half but never got closer than 14 points.

Out-rebounded by 8 in the first half, the Lions won the board battle by 5 in the second period.

Warrior freshman guard Mariah Schroeder led all scorers with 22 points. She was also first among rebounders with 8 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals.

While four Warriors scored in double figures, SG received 16 points and 7 rebounds from Nicki Ellingson along with 15 points from Julianna Sand.

Samantha Bratland came off the injured list to add 9 points and 6 rebounds. Kailee Bjerke helped out on the boards with 6 rebounds.

Both teams shot 60% from the foul line, but Cal attempted and made twice as many free throws (12 for 20) as SG did (6 for 10).

The first two SG scores were Sand treys, but the Lions never scored again from beyond the arc, finishing 2 for 16 (13%) from long range. Overall, Cal hit 9 of 28 triples (32%).

The Lions exited at 5-2 while the Warriors enjoyed their second win (2-6). The two teams have split their last four games, but Caledonia dominates the all-time series 54 to 10.

With no seniors, Caledonia started three juniors and two freshmen with several sophomores coming off the bench.

In the B-team game, the Warriors used a strong first half to defeat SG 49-33.

varsity numbers

all FG: SG 39%, Cal 43%

3-pt: SG 13% (2-16), Cal 32% (9-28)

2-pt: SG 49%, Cal 53%

FT: SG 60% (6-10), Cal 60% (12-20)

Rebounds: SG 29, Cal 32

Turnovers: SG 25, Cal 22

Fouls: SG 13, Cal 13

INDIVIDUALS: P-points, R-rebounds, A-assists, S-steals, B-blocked shots, H-hustle points, * starter.*Nicki Ellingson 16P, 7R, 1A, 3S, 4H; *Julianna Sand 15P, 1R, 1A, 3H; *Samantha Bratland 9P, 6R, 2A, 2S, 2H; Aly Folz 6P, 2R, 1A, 1S, 3H; Kailee Bjerke 2P, 6R, 1S, 2H; *Lauren Arneson 2P, 3R, 1A, 1S, 10H; Kelsey Hermanson 2P, 1R, 2A, 1H; *Elizabeth Johnson 2R, 3A, 1S, 4H; Jordan Anderson 1R, 1A, 3S, 1H ; also playing - Lauryn Bohr, Grace Edgington

Spring Grove vs. Holmen

Saturday evening brought a match with Holmen of Wisconsin, and the SG girls turned to defensive pressure for a come-from-behind victory, 51-48.

The Lions led most of the way, but went scoreless during a turnover-laden seven minutes as their 24-23 halftime lead melted into a 31-26 deficit.

Then SG went without a turnover for 17 straight possessions while using a full-court and half-court press to force the Vikings into mistakes. That resulted in a 17-4 Lion run and an eight-point lead (43-35) - the greatest margin of the game.

The Vikings fought back within two points (47-45) with a minute left to play. Up by 3 points with 11 seconds to go, SG missed a free throw to give Holmen a chance to tie. But the Vikes missed the three-point attempt at the buzzer.

The Lions shot the same 39% they had two nights previous in a 19-point loss, but ball handling and defense were greatly improved. However, SG sustained its greatest rebounding deficit of the season, 18 to 30.

The worst incident for SG was an injury to Sand that came with only 23 seconds left. In addition to energetic defense with 4 steals and 2 blocked shots, she had scored 9 points and passed out a career-high 5 assists with no turnovers.

Ellingson (6 points) had 3 assists also with no turnovers. Lauren Arneson led all scorers with a career-best 17 points while Bratland added 11 points.

Holmen was led by Kayli Davis with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

SG led by narrow margins before falling behind 23-20. Then the Lions scored 4 points in the final 27 seconds of the first half to lead 24-23 at intermission.

Elizabeth Johnson opened second-half scoring before the Lions suffered through a drought of 6 missed shots and 5 turnovers. Eventually, shots began to fall, and stepped-up defensive pressure forced 7 Viking turnovers as SG rebounded from 5 points down to 8 points up.

After four straight games of foul-line futility, the Lions hit most of their free throws (11 of 17) for a third straight game.

SG scored 20 points with perimeter shots, but most came inside the arc. The Lions hit only 2 of 15 three-point attempts, but both of those Arneson treys along with a traditional 3-point play by Bratland capped the critical run that put SG ahead for good with 6:30 left to play.

The two teams have been recent rivals during summer league play but were meeting for what is believed to be the first time during the regular season as part of this year's annual Holiday Festival.

SG improved to 6-2. Holmen, with about 10 times the enrollment of SG, fell to 2-6.

During the B-team part of the holiday event, Holmen defeated SG 46-25.

Up Next:

January 3 finds the Lion girls kicking off the new year at Houston. On Jan. 9, SG hosts Mabel-Canton. The following night, Spring Grove travels to Hope Lutheran for a varsity girls (6 p.m.) - boys (7:15) double header.

varsity numbers

all FG: SG 39%, H 37%

3-pt: SG 13% (2-15, H 25% (2-8)

2-pt: SG 50%, H 40%

FT: SG 65% (11-17), H 58% (14-24)

Rebounds: SG 18, H 30

Turnovers: SG 14, H 23

Fouls: SG 19, H 13

INDIVIDUALS: *Arneson 17P, 2R, 1A, 2S, 9H; *Bratland 11P, 2R, 2A, 1S, 8H; *Sand 9P, 4R, 5A, 4S, 2B, 7H; *Ellingson 6P, 5R, 3A, 1S, 6H; *Johnson 2P, 3R, 2A, 5H; Anderson 2P, 2A, 1S, 1H; Kelsey Hermanson 2P, 1R, 1H; Kailee Bjerke 2P; Aly Folz 1R, 1S

SEC Girls Basketball through Dec. 28 games


Spring Grove 5-0 SEC (6-2 all)

Mabel-Canton 4-1 SEC (5-4 all)

Houston 3-2 SEC (4-4 all)

Hope Lutheran 2-3 SEC (4-6 all)

Lanesboro 1-3 SEC (2-8 all)


Lyle/Pacelli 5-0 SEC (6-0 all)

Grand Meadow 3-2 SEC (3-5 all)

LeRoy-Ostrander 1-4 SEC (2-4 all)

Glenville-Emmons 0-4 SEC (0-5 all)

Schaeffer Academy 0-5 (2-7 all)

Spring Grove Girls Basketball

Varsity scores

6-2 (5 - 0 SEC)

W vs. Hope Lutheran 60-25

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 65-45

W at Grand Meadow 47-43

L vs. Waukon 37-45

W at Lanesboro 64-25

W vs. Schaeffer Academy 59-14

L at Caledonia 52-71

W vs. Holmen 51-48

01-03 at Houston

01-09 Mabel-Canton

01-10 at Hope Lutheran 6 p.m.

01-14 Lyle/Pacelli

01-16 at Glenville-Emmons

01-20 at La Crescent

01-23 Fillmore Central

01-24 at LeRoy-Ostrander

01-26 Lanesboro

01-30 Grand Meadow

02-01 at Rochester Lourdes

02-03 Houston

02-06 at Kingsland

02-07 at Schaeffer Academy

02-11 at Mabel-Canton

02-13 Glenville-Emmons

02-17 Rushford-Peterson

02-21 at Lyle/Pacelli (Lyle)

B-team scores

3-4 (3-1 SEC)

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 35-22

W at Grand Meadow 50-15

L vs. Waukon 24-45

L at Lanesboro 34-37

W vs. Schaeffer Academy 42-27

L vs. Caledonia 33-49

L vs. Holmen 25-46