Elliott Cross searches for an outlet pass after rebounding against Houston’s Sam Ross. Moving in to help is Lion teammate Brady Schuttemeier.
Elliott Cross searches for an outlet pass after rebounding against Houston’s Sam Ross. Moving in to help is Lion teammate Brady Schuttemeier.
The Spring Grove boys basketball squad welcomed Houston to town on Dec. 18, defeating their guests 81-32.

Four Lion boys recorded double-digit scoring as the Lions crushed the Hurricanes from the start. Spring Grove stormed ahead 25-3 off the bat and led by as many as 50 points before extending a 39-point halftime margin (58-19) to an eventual 49-point win.

Houston was able to handle the Lions' full-court press, but was stymied against their half-court man-to-man pressure.

Josh Olerud and Blaine Storlie had three steals each while sophomore Elliott Cross and freshman Alex Engelhardt lifted two apiece. The Hurricanes lost 22 turnovers before halftime.

Houston handled the ball much better with only three turnovers in the running-clock-shortened second half, but managed only 13 points.

In a first-half foot race, Spring Grove beat the 'Canes down the floor for 18 fast-break points. Storlie passed out seven assists with only one turnover, all in the first half, as Spring Grove finished with a superb assist-to-turnover ratio (19 assists and a season-best 7 turnovers) despite sending in reserves to play much of the second half.

Engelhardt hit 6 of 9 shots included 2 of 3 from beyond the arc while scoring a game-high and career-high 19 points while also matching a career-best with three assists (only one turnover).

Storlie scored 16 points with Olerud adding 13 and freshman Brady Schuttemeier 12.

Sophomore Dustin Vickerman came off the bench to deal a career-best six assists with no turnovers while scoring two points.

Brandon Schuttemeier battled foul trouble but hit all four of his shots for eight points.

Eighth-grader Chase Grinde put in five points. Sophomore Tanner Sanness and classmate Cross added four points and two points respectively. Freshman Dylan Kampschroer recorded his first varsity assist without a turnover.

The rebound battle was closer than the score with Spring Grove holding a 34-29 edge. It was a team effort with eight Lions collecting between three and six rebounds.

Brady Schuttemeier led with six boards with five from Engelhardt and four each from Vickerman, Sanness and Brandon Schuttemeier. Olerud, Storlie and freshman Gabe Solum each rebounded three times.

Spring Grove was 16 for 28 (57%) from the foul line and shot a season-best 51% from the field, including an acceptable 31% (5 for 16) from three-point range.

Houston hit only one of 12 three-point attempts and shot only 26% overall from the field. The Hurricanes missed most of their free throws (11 for 25).

Hurricane junior forward Sam Ross had a game-high 10 rebounds and was also his team's only consistent scoring threat, putting in half (16) of Houston's 32 points.

Last year's successful 20-7 Houston team lost to Spring Grove by 38 and 30 points. Four games after graduating all five starters, the Hurricanes were again no match for the current young but talented Lion team. Houston left at 0-4 (0-4 SEC) while Spring Grove improved to 5-1 (5-0 SEC).

Cross scored 22 points and had 13 rebounds as the B-team Lions (6-0) also won decisively, 61-30.

Up next: Due to blizzard weather, the Dec. 20 trip to Winona Cotter was postponed, most likely to a date in February yet to be determined.

In the annual four-school Holiday Festival, La Crescent hosts this year's varsity boys double headers. Spring Grove plays the early 6 p.m. game on both Dec. 26 and 28. Wednesday is the annual clash versus Caledonia with the Friday contest against perennial sub-section favorite Rushford-Peterson.