Lion boys fall in overtime against Lyle/Pacelli

Caleb Nerstad drives past Lyle/Pacelli defender Buay Koak. The Spring Grove guard had 10 points plus team-highs with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Photo by S. Lee Epps
S. Lee Epps

Calendar year 2020 began on Jan. 3 at Austin where both teams played and shot well as a 17-game Lion winning streak against Lyle/Pacelli came to an end in overtime, 67-60.

Despite that previous Lion domination of the Athletics, this was a unique matchup. Spring Grove, the most inexperienced team in the conference (only two letter winners), was on the road against the most experienced squad in the conference (six players returning with starting experience) including a 1,000-point career.

In front a large and vocal home crowd, Lyle/Pacelli improved to 7-3 (5-2 SEC) with a seventh straight win after starting with three losses. Spring Grove slipped to 5-4 (3-3 SEC), including a previous overtime victory.

The Lions shot well for the third straight game at 45%, but L/P was the best shooting opponent this season (50%). Despite playing an extra four minutes of overtime, Grove handled the ball with only 10 turnovers, but the Athletics amazingly lost possession only five times.

Spring Grove had 24 field goals and the Athletics 25 with one more more 3-pointer. L/P had a four-point edge at the free throw line only because the Lions were forced to foul in overtime.

In overtime, L/P hit both attempts from the field and then 9 of 10 free throws (Zach Bollingberg hit 8 of 8).

The A's scored with a pick-and-roll layup and a 3-point basket to take a quick 56-51 lead in the extra period.

The Lions' most heralded player, Caden Grinde, fouled out, and the L/P parade to the free throw line began with 2:27 remaining.

The Lions scored on three of four trips down the floor with two crucial baskets from Kyle Hagen, a driving bucket from Reid Bjerke and a traditional 3-point drive and rebound basket from Caleb Nerstad to get back within two points (62-60) with 50 seconds left.

But it would not be quite enough to overcome Bollingberg at the free throw line.

Spring Grove held its greatest lead of eight points at 29-21, but after an 8-point L/P spurt, needed a late 3-point basket from eighth grader Eli Solum to take a 32-29 lead into halftime.

After four lead changes, the Lions led by six (47-41), but the A's scored the next six points. When Grinde scored with a drive with 1:21 left in regulation, the game would be tied for the 11th time at 51-51. 

L/P held for a final shot, but missed both a trey and a contested put-back. And it was on to overtime.

L/P attempted to deny the ball from going to Grinde with man-to-man coverage of him plus a four-man zone. When Grinde did get the ball, he was usually covered by two defenders. 

The junior standout was limited to only nine shots. but he was still one of four Lions scoring in double figures with 11 points along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

Solum came off the bench to throw in four 3-pointers on the way to a Lion-high and career-best 14 points.

Nerstad had a strong stat line with 10 points plus career highs with a team-best 8 rebounds and 6 assists (three times as many assists as turnovers). 

Also scoring in double figures was Hagen with 10 points and 5 rebounds. John Koch contributed 8 points and 6 boards. 

Bjerke (4 points) drew his first varsity start in place of Payton Leahy who was home ill.

Spring Grove was great on the glass with a 30-to-19 rebounding bulge.

But L/P survived with excellent ball-handing and hot shooting. Bollingberg put in 20 points along with 6 assists. Jed Nelson, although only a junior, added to his 1,000-point career with 18 points and 9 rebounds.

Freshman Buay Koak added 16 points, and 6-foot-7 Mach Diang scored 9 points, rebounded 5 times and forced Lions to alter their shots when penetrating the lane.

The B-team game was a matchup of undefeated teams. Freshman Tysen Grinde scored 13 points as the Lions (5-0) won 44-38.

>>SG 32+19+ 9=60

>>LP 29+22+16=67  

Rebounds: SG 30, L/P 19

Turnovers: SG 10, L/P 5

All FG: SG 45% (24-53), L/P 50% (25-50)

2-pt FG: SG 58% (18-31), L/P 67% (18-27)

3-pt FG: SG 27% (6-22, L/P 30% (7-23)

Free throws: SG 60% (6-10), L/P 83% (10-12)

P-points, R-rebounds, A-assists, S-steals, B-blocks, * starter

Leahyout ill; *Nerstad10P, 8R, 6A, 1S; *Bjerke4P, 1R, 1A; *C.Grinde11P, 4R, 5A; *Koch8P, 6R, 1S; *Hagen10P, 5R, 1S; Murphy3P, 1R; Solum14P, 4R, 1A

This week and next

The Lion boys played at Decorah (Iowa) on Tuesday of this week before heading off to Rushford-Peterson on Thursday, Jan. 9. Over the holidays, also at R-P, the Lions defeated both Dover-Eyota and Nevis, while the Trojans also downed the Eagles but fell to the Tigers.

After eight straight games away from home, the boys host Glenville-Emmons on Friday, Jan. 10.

Next week begins at home on Tuesday, Jan. 14 against Houston before a Friday, Jan. 17 trip to Grand Meadow. The Lions defeated Houston in overtime back in early December.


SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE Boys Basketball 2020 (through Jan. 3 games)


Schaeffer Academy…6-0 (10-1 season)

Houston…………………4-2 (6-5 season)

Spring Grove………..5-4 (3-3 season)

Lanesboro……………...1-5 (3-6 season)

Mabel-Canton…………1-5 (2-8 season)


Randolph……………….6-0 (7-4 season)

Lyle/Pacelli……………5-2 (7-3 season)

Grand Meadow……….4-2 (8-3 season)

LeRoy-Ostrander.…...3-4 (5-6 season)

Kingsland…………….…2-5 (4-7 season)

Glenville-Emmons…..0-7 (1-9 season)


Spring Grove Boys Basketball 2020

>>>5-4 (3-3 SEC)

*conference games - approximately 7:15 p.m. unless noted

W vs. Mabel-Canton* 64-25.

W at Houston*63-58 (OT)

W vs.  Lanesboro*55-41                               

L vs. Crestwood 36-51

L at Schaeffer Academy*38-50

L vs. Randolph* 40-54

W vs. Dover-Eyota at Rushford 69-62

W vs. Nevis at Rushford 54-49

L at Lyle/Pacelli* 60-67

Tues. 01-07 at Decorah 7:30 P.M.

Thur. 01-09 at Rushford-Peterson 7:30 P.M.

Fri. 01-10 Glenville-Emmons*

Tues 01-14 Houston*

Fri. 01-17 at Grand Meadow*

Mon. 01-20 at Waukon 7:30 P.M

Tues. 01-21 at Mabel-Canton*

Fri.  01-24 LeRoy-Ostrander*

Mon. 01-27 Lansing Kee

Fri.  01-31 Schaeffer Academy*                  

Sat. 02-01 vs. Stratford 10 A.M. *(Wisconsin/Minnesota Border Battle at La Crosse)

Mon. 02-03 Fillmore Central

Tues. 02-04 at Lanesboro*

Fri. 02-07 at Kingsland*

Sat. 02-15 #Cannon Falls 6 P.M.

Mon. 02-17 La Crescent-Hokah


>>>B-team Boys 5-0

W vs. Mabel- Canton 39-35

W at Houston 67-12

W vs. Lanesboro 55-31

W at Schaeffer Academy 42-38

W at Lyle/Pacelli 44-38


>>8th Grade Boys 4-1

W vs. Mabel-Canton 35-21

W at Houston 27-17

W vs. Caledonia 33-31 (OT)

L vs. Lanesboro17-42

W at Schaeffer Academy


>>7th Grade Boys 4-1

W vs. Mabel-Canton 26-6

W at Houston 37-18

L vs. Caledonia 24-37

W vs. Lanesboro 40-16

W at Schaeffer Academy