Julianna Sand hangs onto ball while sliding down between Houston’s Heather Chapel and Kenzie Nessphotos by Jon Speltz
Julianna Sand hangs onto ball while sliding down between Houston’s Heather Chapel and Kenzie Ness

photos by Jon Speltz
The Spring Grove girls scored their 70th straight conference victory last week while taking back-to-back road trips.

Heading into the final week of the regular season with a nine-game winning streak, Spring Grove improved to 18-6 overall and 16-0 in the SEC.

Spring Grove at Houston

Taking on the Hurricanes in Houston, Spring Grove shooters had a heyday. The team hit 58% from the field and 78% from the foul line on the way towards a lopsided 87-32 Feb. 7 victory.

Lion center Nicki Ellingson led the way hitting a perfect 11 for 11 from the field, 2 of 2 from the line. That put her ahead of all scorers on the night, matching a career-best 24 points. Ellingson also led SG rebounders with 7 boards.

Spring Grove scored 8 three-point buckets, netting 45% from beyond the arc. From 2-point territory, the team shot 62% (28 of 45). Their percentage from the charity stripe was a season-best but didn't figure heavily into the outcome, since the Lions only attempted 9 free throws.

Randi Mehus had 7 assists, Nikki Hansen 5 and Addison Cross 4 with only one turnover between them.

Spring Grove had 19 assists and only 10 turnovers for the entire game. Four of those lost possessions came in the final minutes with Lion reserves playing against Houston regulars.

The Hurricanes had 29 turnovers - more giveaways than rebounds (27) or baskets (12)

Spring Grove's offense was incredibly efficient during the first half as the Lions hit 2 of every 3 shots (24 for 36). The teams traded early baskets until the Lions scored on nine straight possessions including 4 three-point baskets during a 17-2 run.

Coming out of halftime with a 54-19 lead, Cross and Mehus promptly buried 2 treys. Two minutes into the second half, the Lions had extended their 35-point halftime lead to a 45-point spread (66-21). Spring Grove would go on to lead by as many as 57 points.

Mehus also had a great overall performance. In addition to the 7 assists, she hit 4 of 6 three-pointers while scoring 18 points along with 4 rebounds, a blocked shot and game-high 5 steals.

Also scoring in double figures was Cross with 12 points and Samantha Bratland with 11. Julianna Sand came in to add 9 points and 3 steals.

Aly Folz put in 6 points along with 3 rebounds. In addition to those 5 assists, Hansen scored 3 points along with 4 steals, 2 rebounds and a blocked shot.

Elizabeth Johnson and Jordan Anderson each had 2 points while Kailee Bjerke blocked the "Canes' final two shots.

The Hurricanes were led by their two all-conference performers. Abbey Loken, a 5-foot, 10-inch junior center, had an 11-point, 13-rebound double-double.

Point guard Vanessa Lee scored all 12 of her points in the first half. After intermission, Lion defenders Hansen and Lauren Arneson limited Lee to only five shots and no points.

The Lion B-team (14-6) coasted behind a 15-point performance from Elizabeth Johnson. They won 45-7, limiting Houston to single digits for the second time this season.

SG at Schaeffer Academy

On Feb. 8 the team headed off to Rochester, defeating Schaeffer Academy 58-23.

The Grove girls scored 29 fewer points than they did a month earlier in an 87-46 rout of the other Lions of the SEC.

It was due in part to cold shooting but also because Schaeffer opted not to press full court as they had back in Spring Grove in January. In that meeting, the SG Lions scored 26 fast-break points while shredding the full-court defense.

In the rematch Schaeffer dropped into a 2-3 zone, which permitted shots from the perimeter. Coming off two hot-shooting games, Spring Grove scored only 8 points from outside including a 0-for-11 result from three-point land. It was the only time in 24 games this season that the Lions did not score from beyond the arc.

Spring Grove was most effective when able to complete passes inside where Ellingson scored exactly 24 points (her career high) for the third time in the last four games.

The junior center hit 8 of 13 shots from the field and was perfect again at the foul line where she hit all 8 free throw attempts.

She came close to another double-digit statistic with 9 rebounds and also came away with 5 steals.

Mehus recorded rebounding honors with 10 while scoring 3 points. Cross tallied 8 points, had both of the team's blocked shots and matched Ellingson with 5 steals.

Bratland and Folz added 6 points apiece with Hansen and Sand scoring 4 points each. Bjerke put in 2 points and Kelsey Hermanson 1.

Tuohimaa Jarika led Schaeffer Academy with 6 points. Mel Murray, Hannah Carter and Mara Wilson had 5 each.

Following Thursday night's road trip and the Friday bus ride to Rochester, Spring Grove appeared sometimes slow on foot and usually short on shots. They hit only 34% from the field, but SA was even colder at 23%.

The exception came at the foul line where the Spring Grove girls drained 14 of 18 free throws - matching their season-best 78% for the second straight night.

SA went only 2 for 4 at the foul line with SG being whistled for exactly 10 fouls for a third straight game.

Rebounding was again competitive between the two Lion lineups with 34 boards for SG and 32 for SA. Ball handling again was not close as Grove had only 14 turnovers while SA lost possession 35 times. That was the third highest total of the season for a SG opponent.

Heading into the final week of the regular season with a nine-game winning streak, Spring Grove improved to 18-6 overall and 16-0 in the SEC. Schaeffer left at 6-16 (3-13 SEC).

Limiting an opponent to single-digit scoring for the second night in a row, the SG B-team (15-6) also completed a season sweep of SA, 40-8.

Up Next: The Lions took to the road versus the Lanesboro Burros on Feb. 12. On Friday, Hope Lutheran visits Spring Grove in the last regular season match-up. The Section 1A Tournament kicks off on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Southeast Conference 2013

GIRLS Basketball conf. season


Spring Grove * 16 - 0 18 - 6

Hope Lutheran 10 - 6 17 - 6

Mabel-Canton 7 - 9 11 - 11

Lanesboro 6 - 10 7 - 15

Houston 4 - 12 5 - 16


Lyle/Pacelli * 14 - 2 20 - 2

Grand Meadow 11 - 5 13 - 9

LeRoy-Ostrander 9 - 7 10 - 13

Schaeffer Academy 3 - 13 6 - 16

Glenville-Emmons 0 - 16 1 - 20

*clinched division championship