Football, volleyball, basketball busy in offseason

ABOVE LEFT: Matthew Doering soars to score during B-team win against Caledonia. ABOVE RIGHT: Marie Petersen shoots inside against La Farge. BELOW: Brielle Neeley watches the ball fall back while scoring with an ace block during win against St. Charles. Photos by S. Lee Epps
S. Lee Epps

Nathan Crouch netted two free throws, the only points scored in overtime as the Spring Grove seventh grade boys edged Kingsland, 31-29, to win a four-team basketball tournament in Winona last Saturday.

The varsity and B-team boys both won one and dropped at two at Winona tourneys after opening summer league play in La Crosse the previous Tuesday.

The varsity basketball girls swept both games in their summer league debut last week at UW-L. 

The volleyball Lions went 3-4 at the annual Stars of the North Tournament in Rochester before splitting a pair of Wednesday night summer league matches in Winona.

The high school football boys began 7-on-7 league play with a split on Sunday at La Crosse. 


Spring Grove opened with a decisive loss to Waterville-Elysian-Morristown - the eventual champions of the 14-team, state-wide tournament. But the Lions came back with a 3-3 record in their seven-team pool. Winning their final two pool-play matches on Sunday - both going to three sets - qualified them for the top Gold playoff bracket playoff.

Spring Grove thus took two of the three matches that went to a tie-breaking third set.

W-E-M 2, SG 0 (25-12, 25-12)

After the Class A Buccaneers defeated Mabel-Canton in the championship match, Cougar coach Lonnie Morken said, "W-E-M played great defense and offense and completely served us off the court."

SG 2, Osakis 0 (25-14, 25-12)

Scores were almost the same, but this time the Lions were the runaway winners against the Class A Silverstreaks.

L-A Diggers 2, SG 1 (24-26, 25-13, 15-10)

Spring Grove won a tight first set 26-24, but Class AA Lewiston-Altura took the second set and the tie-breaking third.

B-B-E 2, SG 0 (25-20, 25-22)

The Lions closed out their Saturday slate with a closely-contested loss to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, a program that played in last year's Class A State Tournament.

SG 2, D-G-F 1 (23-25, 26-24, 15-9)

The Lions came back from a two-point setback in set one to take a two-point, extra-points nail-biter in set two against Class AA Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.

Spring Grove earned a seemingly wide-margin 15-9 win in the deciding third set against the Rebels.

SG 2, Chargers 1 (23-25, 25-15, 19-17)

Again the Lions suffered a 23-25 opening set loss. After bouncing back for a more confortable 10-point triumph in set two, Spring Grove went to extra points for the 19-17 win in set three.

Gold Bracket playoff: M-C 2, SG 0 (25-13, 25-6)

The Lion were eliminated from championship consideration by Mabel-Canton, which went on to finish as tourney runner-up, dropping their only match in the championship finals.


In Wednesday night summer league, the Lions got another shot at Lewiston-Altura. But again, the Cardinals took two of the three sets. That came just after another Class AA challenge, this time a 2-1 Lion win over St. Charles.

SG 2, St. Charles 1 (25-19, 25-14, 8-15)

Neither team attacked efficiently in set one, but the Grove girls served five aces. Tied nine times early, a five-point run put the Lions ahead to stay at 15-12.

SG dominated set two with 15 winning plays and only eight errors compared to the Saints' six winners and 10 mistakes.

In set three with the match already decided, St. Charles was suddenly very efficient with eight kills and two aces with only three errors.

L-A 2, SG 1 (21-25, 25-19, 9-15)

In a close set one, the score was tied eight times, but the Lions played from behind most of the way. Spring Grove could not keep up with more errors than winning plays.

SG played much better in a close set two with three more winners and three fewer errors than L-A.

The Lions had 10 kills and three scoring blocks and four ace serves.

In deciding set three, both teams had attacked reasonably well, but the Lions had five more errors in a six-point loss.


In both summer league games, strong first halves carried Spring Grove to victory against Wisconsin squads. A seven-point halftime lead held up for an eight-point win against La Farge before a 14-point lead became a 14-point win against De Soto.

SG 34, La Farge 26

The Lions broke away from an 11-all tie score with a pair with back-to-back 3-point field goals from Amelia Solum who would finish with four treys and 27 points. Spring Grove led 23-16 at halftime before outscoring the Wildcats 11-10 in the second half. The Lions hit 6 of 7 free throws.

SG 37, De Soto 22

Spring Grove scored the first 15 points and was up 20-6 before the first Pirate basket on the way to 23-8 halftime control. Both squads added 14 points in the second half.

Solum scored 17 points with 10 from Maggie Lile.


Decorah 43, SG 37

The Vikings scored eight of the game's final 10 points. The Lions had used a 10-point run to take a 21-14 lead, but Decorah replied with a 7-2 run to get back within two points at halftime, 23-21.

The score was tied five times in the second half, finally at 35-all before the final Viking flurry.

A dozen Lions saw action: four seniors, four sophomores and four freshmen.  

Nine scored, led by eight points each from seniors center Wyatt Murphy and guard Payton Leahy.

Caledonia 80, SG 32

The athletic Warriors were just as quick and possessed superior height, length and strength. Caledonia scored the first 18 points and led 48-9 at halftime with just one free throw.

The Warriors raced up and down the floor, scoring 11 times (22 points) with fast breaks in addition to seven 3-point buckets.

The Warrior defense came up with more steals than shots allowed in the first half. The Lions had little success inside all game but managed four treys in the second half.

Leahy led with 9 points with 6 each from Alan Michels and Tysen Grinde. Carson Gerard added 5, Murphy 4 and Kyle Hagen 2.

Varsity tournament

In an eight-team tournament bracket at Winona State on Saturday, the Class A Lions fell to Class AAAA Rochester John Marshall 48-33after trailing by 25 points at halftime (32-7).

In the consolation bracket, Spring Grove led by 17 at halftime before claiming a 52-36(16-point) win against Alma-Pepin. In the fifth place game, it was back to the big boys. Class AAA Austin expanded a 10-point halftime lead into a 51-23win over the Lions.  

B-Team Boys: SG 54, Caledonia 26

The second half began with a 21-7 Spring Grove run and ended with a 28-point win. Caledonia scored 13 points in each half, but the Lions exploded with 35 in the second half.

The Lions had come from six points behind to lead by six points at halftime, 19-13. 

Carson Gerard led Lion scoring with 14 points along with nine each from Caleb Griffin and Tysen Grinde.

SG was the older team with sophomores, freshmen and eighth graders. Caledonia employed a mostly freshman and eighth grade lineup.

B-team tourney

The B-boys lost the opener to John Marshall 39-23. They then met the Winona Blazers and led 23-8 at halftime on the way to a 42-27win. The Lions lost to Alma Pepin 22-17in the fifth place game.

Lions win 8th grade tourney

The eighth grade boys opened with a 34-24win against the Winona Blazers 6, followed by a 38-11thumping of Lanesboro before the 31-29 overtime win versus Kingsland.

FOOTBALL (7-on-7)

The high school boys split a pair of passing-only games on Sunday at La Crosse. Senior Chandler Bergrud took all the excellent snaps from senior center Wyatt Murphy and completed 27 of 52 passes (52%) with three interceptions and four touchdowns.

Junior Caden Grinde caught just over half (14) of those passes for three TDs. He also picked off two enemy aerials.

Eight different Lions had pass receptions, including three by Isaac Griffin and two each by Tyler Kersten (TD), Carter Bratland, Kyle Hagen and John Koch.

Griffin, Bergrud and Hagen also defended with interceptions.

The two opponents combined to complete 30 of 77 passes (39%) with five interceptions and five touchdowns.

Onalaska 36, SG 29

With enough players for a two-platoon offense, the Hilltoppers got off 42 passes to only 27 for Spring Grove. 

SG 38, Sparta 29

The Spartans aired up 10 more passes than did Spring Grove, but the Lions completed three more (16-25-1) with one fewer interception. All four SG touchdowns came during this game.