It was a season like no other for the Spring Grove girls and every other team as well. The COVID-controlled campaign limited the Lions to 16 games, the fewest in 37 years when they went 4-12 with a fifth-place River Valley Conference finished in 1984. This year’s win total was similar at 3-13 overall to finish fifth in the SEC East Division with a 3-11 Southeast Conference count. Despite all the cancelations and postponements, Spring Grove was able to play 14 of the 15 scheduled league games plus one non-conference encounter and one playoff game.
It was a tough task for a young Spring Grove squad that returned five letter winners from a 6-21 team. This year’s starting lineup consisted of no seniors, one junior, two sophomores, one freshman and an eighth grader. The playing rotation added two juniors and another eighth grader coming off the bench.
The Lions did not fare well against older and more experienced competition. There were two competitive eight-point and four-point wins over East Division last-place Schaffer Academy (1-16, 0-15 SEC) and a seven-point victory over Lyle/Pacelli (3-17, 2-12 SEC), which occupied the cellar of the SEC West. The Lions thus received the No. 15 section seed, just ahead of No. 16 L/P and No. 18 Schaeffer. The three-point and 11-point losses to fourth-place Mabel-Canton were the only two competitive defeats.
A late 3-point basket, two steals and a blocked shot sent Grove past Schaeffer in a back-and-forth thriller. And then in the rematch, 12 fewer turnovers and 13 more offensive rebounds allowed Spring Grove to overcome a cold-shooting night. Then Lions outscored Lyle/Pacelli by 18 points from 3-point range in a seven-point Spring Grove victory.
As expected, defense would have to carry the Lions until the attack found its footing. But the offense rarely delivered. The defense gave up 53 points per game, similar to several recent seasons and better than some. But the offense supplied only 33 points per game. Too many turnovers resulted in too few shot attempts. And too few of those shots found nylon. From the field, Spring Grove was outshot 39% to 26%, including 25% to 21% from 3-point land.
There were encouraging statistics with the Lions whistled for fewer fouls and getting to the foul line for more free throws than the opposition. But shooting negated those advantages. Despite attempting 24 more free throws than the opponents, Spring Grove managed only a three-point advantage on the scoreboard. The Lions shot 49% at the foul line, while the other girls achieved 53% success.
The Grove girls held a rebounding advantage in only three games, including both wins against Schaeffer. In the win over L/P, both teams secured 41 rebounds. For the season, the Lions averaged 27 rebounds to the opponents’ 34.
A young varsity also meant younger-than-usual B-team and junior high squads. Four eighth graders were playing with the high school girls. While the youthful B-team went 0-11, the remaining junior high girls had an encouraging 7-3 record in eighth grade games; it was 2-6 in seventh grade action.
Despite disappointing scoreboard success on the high school level, there was effort until the very end. Optimism lingers because of the valuable varsity experience gained by all the young Lions. There needs to be improvement in every area, even defense. But with youth, there is time, but time only supplies opportunity. Dedication to off-season skill development will be the key to more wins. The pandemic canceled last year’s summer league. But making better decisions, especially with the ball in hand, could benefit greatly with off-season action this coming summer.
The focus of this article is the team; individual accomplishments will be featured in upcoming coverage.
>>SEC EAST DIVISION
Houston 13-0 SEC, 18-0 season
Randolph 11-1 SEC, 14-2 season
Lanesboro 8-7 SEC, 10-10 seasonSEC)
Mabel-Canton 4-11 SEC, 4-15 season
Spring Grove 3-11 SEC, 3-13 season
Schaeffer Aca. 0-15 SEC, 1-16 season
>>SEC WEST DIVISION
Kingsland 12-1 SEC, 17-3 season
Grand Meadow 8-4 SEC, 9-8 season
Southland 9-5 SEC, 11-9 season
LeRoy-Ostrander 5-8 SEC, 5-11 season
Lyle/Pacelli 2-12 SEC, 3-17 season
Spring Grove Girls Basketball 2021. >>3 wins, 13 losses (3-11 SEC)
2-0 Schaeffer Academy 47-39, 41-37
1-0 vs. Lyle/Pacelli 56-49
0-1 vs. Grand Meadow 20-36
0-1 vs. Rushford-Peterson 28-44
0-1 vs. Randolph 25-65
0-1 vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 47-65
0-1 vs. Southland 24-68
0-1 vs. Kingsland 27-68
0-1 vs. Blooming Prairie 24-58 (section)
0-2 vs. Mabel-Canton 31-34, 30-41
0-2 vs. Lanesboro 45-66, 38-53
0-2 vs. Houston 23-63, 26-67
B-team Girls Basketball 2021 >>0 wins, 11 losses
0-1 vs. Grand Meadow 12-50
0-1 vs. Rushford-Peterson 14-36
0-1 vs. Randolph 8-43
0-1 vs. Mabel-Canton 17-40
0-1 vs. Southland 23-39
0-1 vs. Kingsland 12-47
0-1 vs. Lyle/Pacelli 16-3
0-2 vs. Lanesboro 12-34, 23-37
0-2 vs. Houston 8-48, 20-47
8th Grade Girls Basketball 2021 >>7 wins, 3 losses
2-0 vs. Mabel-Canton 25-17, 37-24
1-0 vs. Randolph 27-26
1-0 vs. Schaeffer Academy 28-26
1-0 vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 29-16
1-0 vs. Kingsland 25-22
1-1 vs Houston 13-34, 23-22
0-2 vs. Lanesboro 19-34,12-33
7th Grade Girls Basketball 2021 >>2 wins, 6 losses
1-0 vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 28-18
1-0 vs Schaeffer 22-16
0-1 vs. Kingsland 24-41
0-1 vs. Randolph 17-23
0-2 vs. Houston 10-22, 19-34
0-2 vs. Lanesboro 12-29, 10-3