The Spring Grove basketball girls will have many familiar faces on the court as former Lion standout Taylor Elton moves up from junior high duty to become the program’s 12th head coach. Elton played on Spring Grove’s 2012 state tournament squad and played college ball at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and then on the Luther College team that qualified for the DIII NCAA Tournament. Blaine Storlie, the 2013 boys MVP and basketball collegian at Hamline is back to guide the fortunes of the B-team for the fifth season.
The Lions finished 10-17 last year, a fifth straight season below .500, but they had a winning conference record (7-6) for the first time in five seasons, including a win over SEC East champion Lanesboro, and finished third after fifth-place the previous season. Grove was sandwiched between the top two (Lanesboro and Houston) and the bottom two (Mabel-Canton and Schaeffer Academy). Also, SG went 10-9 against other Class A clubs, better than the previous year’s 3-11. The Lions improved in almost every statistical category, including their best 3-point shooting in 10 years (28%).
Graduation claimed the only All-SEC selection and two-time Lion MVP, leading scorer Jordian Leahy, who is now coaching the junior high girls. Last year’s leading rebounder is not on the roster this year. However, there is considerable experience to continue the climb. Among six letter winners is Honorable Mention All-SEC Addyson McHugh (5-foot, 10-inch, sr. guard/forward) last year’s second leading scorer (10.3 ppg) and third leading rebounder (4.1 rpg). Another 3-year letter winner and returning starter is Lydia Solum (5-10 sr. guard/forward; 3.5 ppg) who was the assist leader (3.2 apg) and second leading rebounder (5.2 rpg).
Also back with starting experience at point guard (both during their respective eighth grade seasons) are 3-year letter winner Emerson Ingvalson (5-6 soph; 3.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Siri Konkel (5-3 fr; 3.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg). Kendal VanMinsel (6-0 soph. forward/center; 2.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg) played in 21 of 27 games last year. Kylie Hammel (5-9 fr. guard/forward;1.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg) saw action in 19 games as an eighth grader and was an emerging key contributor late in the season before being voted the team Most Improved Player. Sophomore guard Katie Klug (5-6 guard) played in 11 games.
Elton is also encouraged by the amount of young talent in the program. Freshmen guards Addison Halverson (5-5, 10 games) and Carlie Halverson (5-6, 7 games) were on the varsity roster last year as eighth graders, but they saw most action on the B-team. Other freshmen with both B-team and junior high experience are Ellevia Berns (5-3 guard), Addison Kessler (5-5, guard) and Callie Peterson (5-8 guard/forward).
Others moving up from junior high action are freshman Madison Lile along with eighth graders Jada Strinmoen, Layla Kittleson, Izabel Kaufmann and Brinley Middendorf. That makes 17 on the youthful high school roster: 2 seniors, no juniors, 3 sophomores, 8 freshmen and 4 eighth graders.
The Lions improved in almost every statistical category last year, but they trailed the opposition in most of them. Spring Grove outscored the opponents from 3-point land but were outscored from 2-point range and from the foul line. The Lions averaged 44 points per game while surrendering 54. Fewer turnovers will result in more shot attempts from both the field and the free throw line. Better fast break defense will be needed to prevent as many lop-sided losses.
Elton says defense, both full-court and half-court, has been emphasized during preseason preparations. There has also been work on a new offense.
A young lineup made significant progress last year. There should be quality senior leadership from McHugh and Solum. Overall, the Lions are still young, but some younger players are already experienced. Others played on a B-team, which went 12-11. The conference race begins immediately as Spring Grove opens with three SEC games. Five of the first six are conference contests.
The non-conference slate includes Lansing Kee at the Iowa-Minnesota Border Battle and two games at the Rushford-Peterson Tournament. There are home matchups with Rushford-Peterson and larger school Waukon, Iowa, along with road trips to Fillmore Central, Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons and Class AA St. Charles.
Lions the Last 7 Seasons – SG girls Basketball
2022 10-17 (7-6 SEC, 3rd East)
2021 ..3-13 (3-11 SEC, 5th East)
2020 ..6-21 (4-9 SEC, 4th East)
2019 10-12 (6-7 SEC, 3rd East)
2018 10-14 (6-7 SEC, 2nd East tie)
2017 15-11 (11-3 SEC, 2nd East)
2016 16-10 (14-4 SEC, 1st East)
total 70-98 (51-47 SEC)
conference championships (11): 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2005, 2003, 1996, 1980
sub-section/district championships (6): 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 1997, 1995
section championships (1): 2012
Spring Grove Girls BB 2023
* SEC game, Home games in bold
0 wins, 0 loses (0-0 SEC)
Tues., 11-29 Lanesboro*
Tues., 12-06 at Kingsland*
Thur., 12-08 Schaeffer Academy*
Sat., 12-10 Kee High (at Luther College)
Tues., 12-13 Grand Meadow*
Fri. 12-16 at LeRoy-Ostrander*
Mon., 2-19 Waukon
Tues., 12-27 to be determined at R-P Tourney
Wed., 12-28 to be determined at R-P Tourney
Tues., 01-03 at Lyle/Pacelli* (at Austin)
Fri. 01-06 Southland*
Tues. 01-10 at Grand Meadow*
Thur., 01-12 Mabel-Canton*
Tues., 01-17 at Houston*
Thur., 01-19 at Lanesboro*
Fri., 01-20 Kingsland*
Tues., 01-24 at St. Charles
Thur., 01-26 at Schaeffer Academy*
Fri., 01-27 at Fillmore Central
Mon., 01-30 LeRoy-Ostrander*
Thur., 02-02 at Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons
Tues. 02-07 Lyle/Pacelli*
Thur., 02-09 at Southland*
Sat. 02-11 Rushford-Peterson 4 p.m.
Tues., 02-14 at Mabel-Canton*
Fri., 02-17 Houston*