Early deficit too deep for frosty-shooting Lion boys

LEFT: Caleb Nerstad draws contact from Isaac Stoesz on this drive to the basket against Randolph. RIGHT: Wyatt Murphy works on the low post against Randolph defender Alex Whitson.
S. Lee Epps

The Spring Grove boys shot well enough in the second half (39%), but an icy first half (16%) doomed them to a third straight low-scoring loss - a 54-40result against Randolph at Rochester in the Dec. 21 Southeast Conference Showcase. 

Overall, the Lions hit only 4 for 26 attempts from 3-point land (15%), and more than one of every four 2-point shots (9 of 35) was blocked. 

The Lion lads shot well at the foul line, but they did not get there very often and were outscored at the stripe as well. SG hit 6 of 9 free throws while Randolph went 8 for 16.

Spring Grove was great on the offensive glass but converted only three of 20 offensive rebounds into 7 put-back points.

The Lions scored first, but their last lead came at 7-6. It was tied at 9-all, and then the Grove guys missed nine straight shots, hit one basket and came up empty on their next nine shots to trail 25-13. Caleb Nerstad hit a driving shot to make it 25-15 at halftime.

That 10-point deficit would be as close as the Lions would get. They shot better in the second half, but so did the Rockets, who enjoyed their greatest advantage of 19 points (52-33) with just under four minutes to play.

With two and half minutes remaining, Randolph went to a delay offense with a 16-point lead.

Later, with reserves from both teams on the floor, freshman Hunter Holland - with a post-move basket, a steal and fast break layup scored twice in the fading seconds to push Spring Grove to 40 points for the first time in three games.

Nine Lions rebounded and eight scored, but none tallied in double digits. Reserves scored slightly over half the points (21 of 40). John Koch came in for 8 points and 12 rebounds, however Spring Grove was outrebounded for a third straight game, but only 38 to 35.

Payton Leahy also had 8 points with Carson Gerard hitting two of the team's four 3-pointers for 6 points. 

Nerstad added 5 points, Holland and Caden Grinde 4 each, Reid Bjerke 3 and Kyle Hagen 2. 

Ball-handling was respectable all around with only 11 lost possessions for each team

The Rockets are tall and athletic with 14 of the 15 on the roster listed at 6-feet or taller. The starters average just under 6-3.

All-conference 6-3 senior point guard Nick Drinken piloted the Rocket attack and also led scoring with 13 points. Junior 6-3 Devon Schultz, the only non-senior starter, had 12 points and 6-4 Isaac Stoesz 10.

Randolph (7-2, 6-0 SEC) leads the SEC West Division. The Rockets are coming off their best season in school history, going 26-3 last year. Two of the three losses came against Spring Grove - including the 2019 section championship game. The Lions have won seven of the nine games between the two teams.

There were no B-team or junior high games.

This week and next

The early holiday deadline on Friday, Dec. 27 came a couple of hours before the Lion boys faced Dover-Eyota in a holiday slate at Rushford-Peterson. Spring Grove was back in Rushford on Saturday afternoon to take on Nevis.

On Friday, Jan.3, the boys bus to Austin for an SEC matchup versus Lyle/Pacelli. The Lions play at Decorah, Iowa on Tuesday, Jan. 7 and at Rushford-Peterson on Jan. 9.

The next home game is the following night (Jan. 10) against Glenville-Emmons.

>>Randolph 54, SG 40

>>SG 15+25=40

>>Ran 25+29=54  

Rebounds: SG 35, Ran 38

Turnovers: SG 11, Ran 11

All FG: SG 25%, Ran 42%

2-pt FG: SG 31%, Ran 47%

3-pt FG: SG 15% (4-26), Ran 33% (6-18)

Free throws: SG 67% (6-9), Ran 50% (8-16)

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

*Leahy 8P, 1R; *Nerstad 5P, 4R, 2A, 2S; Bjerke 3P, 3R; *Grinde, C. 4P, 2R, 2A, 2S, 1B; Grinde, T. 1R; Holland 4P; Koch 8P, 12R, 1S; Gerard 6P, 3R; *Hagen 2P, 6R, 1A; *Murphy 3R; Solum out ill


The conference

Both the Schaeffer Academy boys in the SEC East Division and the Randolph boys in the West are two-games better in the loss column than their nearest competitors.

The Schaeffer Lions (9-1, 5-0 SEC) have already defeated their other four East rivals. The closest contest was 54-50 at Lanesboro.

The Rockets (7-2, 6-0 SEC) already have wins over all five of the other West squads. The closest game was 67-58 at Lyle/Pacelli.


SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE Boys Basketball 2020 (through Dec. 26 games)


Schaeffer Academy…5-0 (9-1 season)

Houston…………………4-2 (6-3 season)

Spring Grove………..3-2 (3-3 season)

Lanesboro……………...1-4 (3-5 season)

Mabel-Canton…………0-5 (1-7 season)


Randolph……………….6-0 (7-2 season)

Grand Meadow……….4-2 (6-2 season)

Lyle/Pacelli……………4-2 (4-3 season)

LeRoy-Ostrander.…...2-4 (3-5 season)

Kingsland…………….…2-4 (3-5 season)

Glenville-Emmons…..0-6 (1-8 season)


Spring Grove Boys Basketball 2020

>>>3-3 (3-2 SEC)

*conference games --home games bold; 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

Fri. 12-27 vs. Dover-Eyota at Rushford 5 P.M.

Sat. 12-28 vs. Nevis at Rushford 1 P.M.

Fri. 01-03 at Lyle/Pacelli* (at Austin)

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 4-0

W vs. Mabel- Canton 39-35

W at Houston 67-12

W vs. Lanesboro 55-31

W at Schaeffer Academy 42-38


>>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