Caledonia’s Noah Jennings slides into second base just under diving tag attempt by Spring Grove shortstop Caleb Nerstad. Action took place at the Annual Bud Marnach Tournament in Caledonia.
Caledonia’s Noah Jennings slides into second base just under diving tag attempt by Spring Grove shortstop Caleb Nerstad. Action took place at the Annual Bud Marnach Tournament in Caledonia.
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Spring Grove swept all five games and the championship of the age 12-and-under division of the Sixth Annual Bud Marnach Baseball Tournament on July 28 at Caledonia.

The varsity Lion basketball boys closed their summer league schedule in La Crosse with a runaway win on July 23 and then went 2-1 (with some controversy) in a July 27 tournament at Winona. The B-team and junior high boys closed their summer-league basketball season by splitting a couple of close contests.



BOYS BASKETBALL VARSITY

The Lion boys (12-6) wrapped up their Tuesday night summer league regular season with a 7-1 record after mauling Brookwood. On Saturday in Winona, SG won two and lost(?) one for fifth place at the Cotter Tournament.

SG 57, Brookwood 25

The Lions shot extremely well, 50% from both 2-point and 3-point (6 for 12) range while pouring in 9 of 11 free throws (82%).

SG rebounded extremely well, doubling up (plus one) the Falcons 35 to 17. There were Lion 11 turnovers the first half, but coach Wade Grinde was pleased with the second half. SG lost possession only 5 times after intermission while expanding a double-up 26-13 halftime margin into a 32-point rout.

SG passed effectively to get the ball inside the Falcon 2-3 zone for 19 points. Outside, the Lions put in a half dozen treys from three different players - Alex Engelhardt, Elliott Cross and Dylan Kampschroer.

Brookwood High School serves the Wisconsin towns of Norwalk, Ontario and Wilton.

COTTER TOURNEY

Stewartville 49, SG 47

A near-miraculous fall-away rebound put-back shot just beat the buzzer for Stewartville. It was a 49-47 game, but the team that actually scored 49 points lost. Early in the game the scoreboard keeper inadvertently posted a SG basket for the wrong team. That 4-point swing eventually made the difference as the Tigers advanced into the winners bracket while the Lions slipped into the consolation bracket of the eight-team tournament.

Despite the scoring error, SG led for most of the game. Up 34-23 at halftime, the Class A Lions were not caught until the final two minutes. The Class AAA Tigers scored the final six points of the game.

With the score knotted at 47, a Tiger turnover gave SG the ball with 40 seconds to go. A Lion shot bounded off the rim, and Stewartville rebounded with 11 seconds left.

After a time out, the Lions forced a closely-guarded desperation three-point attempt that sailed over the basket. As everyone waited for the buzzer, a tall Tiger rebounded and put up the very difficult winning shot while falling over the baseline.

Both teams made over half their shots - SG shooting 53% and Stewartville 51%. The Lions put in 7 of 11 treys (64%) and nailed 8 of 12 free throws. Cross hit 5 of 5 behind the 3-point arc.

But SG was a step behind against quick driving Tigers as Stewartville scored 18 points off dribble drives. The Tigers had an 8-0 scoring edge with fast breaks.

SG held a 22-to-17 rebounding edge but lost the turnover battle 14 to 8. Stewartville then won a semi-final game against Grand Meadow before falling to Onalaska in the championship game.

SG 40, Kingsland 34

In the consolation semi-final, neither team shot well (SG 31%, KHS 35%), but Lion ball handling improved with only 5 turnovers. Three of those lost possessions came right out of the gate as the Lions looked up out of a 7-0 hole.

The first four SG baskets were 3-pointers, and the Lions led 14-10. The Knights regained the lead 26-24 early in the second half, but over the final 16 minutes, the Lions outscored Kingsland 16-8.

Dustin Vickerman scored with an exceptional drive and then again with a rebound to make it 36-28. Brady Schuttemeier then scored twice to put it away at 40-29 in the final minute.

Dropping down from Class AA, Kingsland will join SG in Sub-section 1A-East next winter. The Knights also appear on the Lions' non-conference slate.

SG 54, Iowa-Grant 36

The Panthers blocked 5 of 7 Lion shots during a span that saw an 11-point Lion lead dwindle to four (33-29). Then after a Chase Grinde triple, Vickerman nailed 2 treys sandwiched around his assist that Schuttemeier converted into a 3-point play inside.

Schuttemeier scored 9 late points, and Engelhardt passed out key assists as the Lions put the game away with a 16-5 run.

Engelhardt had scored the first 8 points as SG led quickly 8-1. Grinde scored the final 6 points of the first half as SG went into intermission on a 9-0 run for a 24-14 lead.

The Lions again sizzled with 7-for-11 (64%) shooting from 3-point land. That was better then they shot from 2-point range (43%) and the foul line (44%). Four Lions scored in double figures.

Once again, SG handled the ball very well with only 6 turnovers, but the Panthers lost possession only 9 times.

The Iowa-Grant school district includes 13 communities in Iowa County and Grant County in southwest Wisconsin. There are about 250 high school students.



B-TEAM BOYS

SG 47, Viroqua (#4) 42

The Lions' 14-point halftime lead (29-15) dissipated (with a pair of Blackhawk treys) down to one point (43-42) with 30 seconds to play. A few seconds later upcoming seventh grader Alex Folz dropped in two free throws.

Against a full-court press, Devon Nerstad found Brock Schuttemeier open down the floor for the final basket with 7 seconds to go. It was the Lions' only fast-break basket of the game.

Viroqua shot only 33% overall but converted 5 steals into 10 fast-break points during the second-half rally.

The Blackhawks had 14 field goals to 13 for SG. But fouls and free throws were the difference. The Lions sank twice as many free throws (10 for 17) as Viroqua attempted (2 for 5)

The Blackhawks played with only 6 turnovers all game, but the Lions held a 33-to-22 rebounding margin. This young SG squad closed the summer slate with a 3-4 record.

JUNIOR HIGH BOYS

La Crescent (#4) 31, SG 27

It was a strong start for SG, but a 9-point lead melted down to four by halftime. La Crescent Team 4 moved ahead in the second half by as many as 8 points before the Lions got back within 4 at the end. SG closed at 0-7 for the summer against older competition.



LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL

BUD MARNACH TOURNEY

SG dominated the 6-team field. It was the summer recreation seventh-grade-and-under Little League Lions minus a couple of players too old to play in the age 12-and-under tourney.

Alex Folz had repeated power-packed plate appearances, batting 11 for 12 with all but one of those hits going for extra bases - 4 home run blasts, 2 triples and 4 doubles. He drove in 14 runs in addition to scoring 10 times himself including stealing home 3 times.

On the mound, Folz pitched 9 and two-third innings with no earned runs while striking out 25 batters and walking only 2. He was credited with 2 wins and one save. Folz tossed a 4-inning one hitter in the semi-final shutout of Holmen.

Caleb Nerstad logged 2 pitching wins, going 5 and one-third innings while allowing only 2 hits. He fanned 10 and walked only 6. Nerstad pitched a no hitter in the championship game.

Chandler Bergrud (1-0) was available for only the first two games but was on the mound for 4 frames with no earned runs allowing only one hit while striking out 8 and issuing only 3 walks.

Kai Bjerke also did considerable damage with the bat, going 4 for 8 with all hits going for extra bases - 3 doubles and a triple. He batted in 3 runs and crossed home plate 9 times himself.

Games were scheduled for 4 innings. The championship game was supposed to go 5 innings, but the Lions ended it in the third inning with the 10-run rule.

SG 4, Holmen 3

Bergrud and Folz in relief combined for a one hitter. Mitchell Beinborn had that single but was tagged out at the plate by Noah Elton. The three Holmen players that scored reached base on 2 walks and an interference violation.

It was either feast or famine for SG batters who struck out 11 times with only one walk. But all the Lions who combined for 4 hits would come around to score.

SG took a 2-0 lead with back-to-back doubles (Bjerke, Folz) in the first inning. The Lions broke a 2-2 tie with a single by Nerstad and a towering 2-run home run by Folz in the third.

SG 202 0 - 4 4 1

Ho 200 1 - 3 1 0

Bergrud, Folz (4) and Elton

SG 11, Caledonia 1

SG benefited from 6 Caledonia errors, but 3 of the 4 Lion hits were big blows - a home run, a triple and a double.

Elton singled before capping the Lions' 4-run first inning by stealing home.

Folz and Bergrud combined to pitch a one hitter with Eric Bauer having a first-inning single. Both SG errors allowed Caledonia to avoid the shutout in the final fourth inning.

The dazzler of the day came with Lion third baseman Michael Blackburn tumbling and rolling but still hanging on to a juggling catch.

Cal 000 1 - 1 2 6

SG 452 x -11 4 2

Folz, Bergrud (4) and Elton

SG 8, Caledonia (age 11) 4

After downing the age-12 team from Caledonia, the Lions would then trail for the only time all day against the Caledonia age-11 squad. Nerstad and Folz combined for the 2-hitter, but a triple by Noah Jennings and a single from Austin Heaney helped Caledonia open the game with a 4-0 lead.

A Folz home run and 3 walks led to the Lions promptly tying it up in the bottom of the first. Two more hits produced 4 more tallies in the second inning.

Cal 400 0 - 4 2 1

SG 440 x - 8 3 2

Nerstad, Folz (3) and Elton

The first three wins sent SG into the 4-team semi-finals.

SG 7, Holmen 0

The rematch with Holmen did not resemble the previous nail-biting opener. Folz tossed a one-hit shutout while SG scored in each inning.

The first 3 Lion batters all reached base (one error, 2 doubles) and scored before an out was recorded.

The defensive gem of the day came when Elton (at catcher) snuffed out a steal attempt with Nerstad (shortstop) applying the tag at second base.

The game ended with Bjerke, playing first base, running into foul territory for a fly ball.

Ho 000 0 - 0 1 3

SG 313 x - 7 5 1

Folz and Elton

SG 15, Caledonia 0

The championship game was also a rematch - with the Caledonia age-12 team. Folz pitched a no hitter, but Caledonia loaded the bases with 2 walks and a Lion error in the second inning. The threat ended with a ground ball to Elton at shortstop.

Seven of the Lions' 8 hits went for extra bases. SG batted around the order in the first inning then sent 15 batters to the plate in the second.

Cal 000- 0 0 4

SG 69x -15 8 1

Nerstad and Folz

The Lion defense was solid with only 6 errors in 5 games. In addition to the aforementioned players, Reese Crouch defended in right field, had 2 hits (including a double) and scored four times.

Payton Leahy, as always, was solid playing second base and scored both times after drawing walks at the plate. He was robbed of a base hit when a hard-hit line drive was snagged by Caledonia second baseman Colby Mann in the finals.

In addition to a couple of over-age (for this tourney) Little Leaguers, another few were out of town with family. Stepping in for this tournament, Isaac Gengler (usually playing Pee Wee ball) and Takoda Boyd defended in left field while Ethan Matzke saw action in center field.

Boyd and Matzke had not played competitive baseball in years (or ever), but both contributed to the Lion attack. Matzke belted a line drive home run in the championship game. Boyd had 2 impressive bunt singles, one of which earned the neophyte a run batted in. Boyd came around to score both times.

This young Lion team closed the summer rec season with a 10-5 record. Most of these championship players are young enough to play Little League baseball again next summer.



SIXTH GRADE BASKETBALL

Seven of those Marnach Tournament baseball titlists are also reigning Pacesetter state basketball champions. These SG sixth graders will play in Minneapolis at the Target Center this Saturday, Aug. 3 in the Great Four-State Championship Basketball Tournament.

The tourney bracket is an 8-team playoff featuring the state sixth grade champions and runners-up from Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.