Familiar faces, new attack for girls basketball

Kyleigh Doering is one of five Spring Grove seniors who plan to get back to winning ways in 2018-19. File photo
By : 
S. Lee Epps

Despite the return of three starters, the Spring Grove girls expect to display a different style of basketball this winter. It reflects as much the players who graduated as it does the girls coming back. Graduation claimed all three post players - one three-time all-conference standout and another who will be on a college court this season.

Only perimeter players return along with half of the coaching staff for the 2018-19 campaign. Kody Moore will be the head coach after three seasons as assistant. Blaine Storlie, who ranks second in career assists and third in career scoring for the Lion boys before playing at Hamline University, is the new varsity assistant and B-team mentor.

With Moore still working with the Lion football team as offensive coordinator, Storlie has been conducting the preseason practice sessions with 17 cage candidates.

Sarah Tollefsrud, former head coach at Fillmore Central, will be back to coach the junior high girls. She will be joined this year by Toby Leahy, who posted the Lion boys' all-time best assist-to-turnover ratio during his playing days in a Spring Grove uniform.

The Lions seek to rebound after last season saw the end of a 10-year string of winning records - both for the season (10-14) and in the conference race (6-7, tied for second). The B-team finished at 1-16 with eighth graders at 5-10 and the seventh graders at 1-12.

There will be experience on the court as Spring Grove returns three starters among five letter winners. But all are guards, which dictates a no-post alignment.

The Lions are not short, but will no longer have any height advantage. The key contributors are all about 5-foot-7.

Storlie foresees a five-out perimeter drive and pass offensive attack and a high-pressure defense.

That offensive strategy will likely furnish 3-point shots and trips to the free throw line.

Last year, the girls significantly outscored the opposition at the foul line - not as much due to shooting well as it was to shooting so often. The Lions did outshoot the opponents 55% to 52%, but the advantage came by attempting 527 free throws to only 302 for the other girls. SG outscored the opposition by 132 points at the foul line.

But overall, the ladies averaged 51 points per game, while the opponents scored 62 points per contest.

From 3-point range, it was the reverse with the opponents attempting 130 more treys than did SG and outshooting the Lions 28.5% to 26%.

But Moore saw an improvement in perimeter shooting - both with treys and mid-range jumpers - during summer league play.

He also was pleased with improved ball handling, which should pay dividends with the plan to play at a faster pace. The assist leaders all return this year, but the team averaged far more turnovers (21) than assists (11).

The major challenge will be rebounding with an undersized lineup. Even with talented post players last winter, the Lions were outrebounded about three boards per game. Graduation claimed 48% of last year's rebounding.

Blocking out will be of paramount importance if the Lions are to limit opponents' second shots.

Moore says the girls are capable, but when fatigued, had a tendency to let down on the backboards.

Conditioning, therefore, may the key to success and a factor beneath the glass as it will while sustaining defensive pressure, especially when defending full court.

It will be a senior-heavy lineup with five seniors, four of whom were letter winners. Two juniors, including one returning starter, will see plenty of playing time. One freshman and an eighth grader may extend the primary rotation to eight or nine players.

Senior MARIAH EDGINGTON was the team leader in both assists (3.4 apg) and steals (3.2 spg) last year. She was the second leading scorer (10.2 ppg) and third leading rebounder (5.4 rpg). Among the returning players, she brings back the top average in all four categories.

Edgington enters the season already eighth on the career steals chart and 10th in all-time made 3-point field goals.

Edgington, a three-year letter winner, has been voted the team Hustle Award in each of the last three seasons.

Junior AMELIA SOLUM was her teammates' choice for Most Valuable Player last winter and received Honorable Mention All-Conference as a sophomore while earning a second varsity letter. 

She was the Lions' leading 3-point shooter at 33%, ranked second in both assists (2.2 apg) and steals (2.3 spg) and was the fourth leading scorer (9.2 ppg).

Senior KAILEE OLERUD is another returning starter who among the main rotation had the best assist-to-turnover ratio. She was voted the 2018 Most Improved Player.

Senior ALYSSA JOHNSON was last year's third leading scorer (9.7 ppg) and is a three-year letter winner. Her 84 made free throws last winter ranks as the eighth best single season total in program history.

Senior SYDNIE KAMPSCHROER has also earned three varsity letters and had last year's second best 3-point percentage (30%).

Senior KYLEIGH DOERING and junior MARIE PETERSEN will be counted on for valuable varsity contributions this season after primarily B-team duty last year.

Freshman JORDIAN LEAHY and eighth grader MAGGIE LILE could also contend for varsity minutes.

Other candidates include sophomore ERIKA DONLAN along with freshmen EMILY OSBORNE and CIERRA BLASKOWSKI plus eighth grader ADDYSON McHUGH.

Junior JACINE JOHANNINGMEIER may return to the basketball program since last playing in junior high.

New to Spring Grove are junior FELICITY OEHMIGEN, sophomore STELLA RANSOM and foreign exchange senior SUZAN van't HOOG.

There are challenges, but there is considerable athleticism. and intangibles are strong. The experienced players, all coming off a volleyball season of unprecedented success, have proven to be resilient, confident, hard working and dedicated. They should not be underestimated.


The girls open on Tuesday, Nov. 27, hosting defending state champion Lyle/Pacelli. The Athletics return two of their four All-Conference players - two-time All-SEC senior guard Abigail Bollingberg and junior forward Olivia Christianson. 

The Lions head to Lanesboro on Friday, Nov. 30.


Lions the Last 6 Seasons - SG girls Basketball

2018…….10-14 (6-7 SEC, tie 2nd)

2017…….15-11 (11-3 SEC, 2nd East)

2016…….16-10 (14-4 SEC, 1st East)

2015…….17-10 (16-4 SEC, 1st East)

2014…….19-8   (16-2 SEC, 1st East)

2013…….23-7   (18-0 SEC, 1st East)

total……100-60 (81-20 SEC)


Early Schedule

Tues. 11-27 Lyle Pacelli

Fri. 11-30 at Lanesboro

Thur. 12-06 at Schaeffer

Fri. 12-14 Mabel-Canton

Sat. 12-15 vs. Charles City (1 p.m. at Decorah)