Free throws continue to lift fortunes of Spring Grove girls

LEFT: Kailee Olerud gets open during section action at Kingsland. RIGHT: Kyleigh Doering heads toward a screen set by Mariah Edgington in section game at Kingsland. Photos by S. Lee Epps
By : 
Lee Epps

The 2019 Spring Grove basketball girls outscored their opponents from both the free throw line and beyond the 3-point arc, but the Lions were outscored overall due a deficit of 2-point field goals. The girls were outscored close to the basket, greatly because of rebounds and fast break layups. 

It was the inaugural campaign for Kody Moore, who after three seasons as assistant, became the program's 12th head coach. Assuming assistant duties was Blaine Storlie, the 2013 Spring Grove Male Athlete of the Year, who played college basketball at Hamline University.

Sarah Tollefsrud was back on the junior high bench, assisted by Toby Leahy, multi-sport athlete at Spring Grove, Class of 2017.

With a 10-11 regular season record, the Lions opened the playoffs on the road as a lower seed for the second straight year, seeking their first postseason win in three seasons. They were more competitive than most expected (65-53 loss) in that hard-fought section contest, a second trip in seven days to Kingsland. 

So the Grove girls closed with a 10-12 season record, an improvement from the previous season's 10-14 mark, but a second straight finish under .500. 

The closest they came to a break-even 11-11 came when a late rally fell short at Cannon Falls and when unable to protect a halftime lead in an 11-point loss at Fillmore Central 

It was similar during conference play with a second consecutive 6-7 league record. This winter, the Lions finished right in the middle (third place) among five teams in the Southeast Conference East Division. 

Final scores

Of the 22 games, half were blowouts, decided by 19 or more points. The Lions went 3-11 in those runaway results with the three wins coming among the first five games.

There were only five contests decided by single-digit margins, and Spring Grove won four of them. That quartet of close victories all came on the home court: 55-52 versus Mabel-Canton, 61-56 against Decorah, 49-44 over Lanesboro and 63-58 versus La Crescent-Hokah. The fifth close encounter was the 66-58 loss at Cannon Falls. 

With that third straight victory over the Lancers, the Lions edged ahead in the all-time series, 15 wins to 14.

The Lions won three of five games against larger class schools - Class AA La Crescent-Hokah and two Iowa Class AAAA (second largest class) teams, Charles City and Decorah. The losses came against familiar foe and Section 1AA champion Caledonia as well as first-time foe Class AA Cannon Falls.

Four setbacks came against state-ranked competition - Class AA state qualifier Caledonia, defending Class A state champion Lyle/Pacelli and two games against state-ranked No. 2 Grand Meadow, which finished at 25-2.

Surely memorable for the girls was playing at the Target Center in Minneapolis. That 55-42 decision was the 24th straight win versus LeRoy-Ostrander and was surely the longest trip the Lion girls ever made for a conference game.

Another highlight also came away from home with a second-half surge and second straight win over Rushford-Peterson (61-47).

It was all sweeps, no splits. The Lions swept both East Division games against Mabel-Canton and Lanesboro but came up short twice against SEC division co-champions Grand Meadow and Houston along with three losses to co-champ Kingsland.

The twin wins against the Burros extended the Lion winning streak in that series to 22 games.

The two wins against Mabel-Canton broke a series deadlock with the Lions now leading all-time versus the Cougars, 53 wins to 51.

Spring Grove had an early five-game winning streak and closed the season with five straight losses. But that was greatly determined by the quality of the opponents. The five vanquished squads all had losing records, while the final five opponents included five winning records, two conference championships and a state tournament berth.

The 22 games played were the fewest in 15 years, since the 22 contests in 2004. The annual game versus Waukon was a victim of winter weather.


The Lion girls averaged 54 points a game, up from the previous season's 51-point average. However, for the second straight year, the opposition averaged 62 points per game. Those 62-point averages are the two highest scoring seasons for opponents in the 42 years of girls basketball in Spring Grove. And the 93 points scored by Grand Meadow and 89 by Caledonia were the two highest scoring games for an opponent.

As might be expected, the highest scoring Spring Grove team (68 points per game) and the best shooting Lion squad (41%) and was the 2012 state tournament team.

From the field

The 2019 Lions shot 32% from the field, not a departure from the recent past. The last six squads have all shot between 31% and 35%. 

The girls displayed improvement while shooting 27%, from 3-point range, slightly better than last year's 26% and the best in six years since the 31% in 2013.

However, from the field, this year's rivals had the best shooting percentage on record, 41%. The opponents' 32% from 3-point range was surpassed only by the 34% in 2001. (Separate percentages for 2-point and 3-point field goals do not appear in the record book until 2000.)

Although the Lion ladies did not shoot as well as the other teams beyond the 3-point arc, they shot more often, and for the first time in four years, outscored their rivals from downtown (by 69 points in 2019). 

From the foul line

The strength of this year's edition extends what has become an annual occurrence - not only getting to the foul line more often but also shooting better once arriving there.

The 2019 girls averaged 24 free throw attempts per game to the opponents' 17. And Spring Grove hit 59% of their free throws, their best accuracy in six seasons.

The opponents shot 55%, matching their best season in 10 years.

But for the 12th straight season and for 18 out of the last 20 seasons, the Lions outscored the opponents from the charity line - this winter by 104 points (310-206).

Only six times in 22 games did the Lions attempt fewer free throws than the opponent. Spring Grove lost five of those six games.

Fast breaks (broke)

In exactly half of the games, the Lions were significantly outscored in transition. They lost nine of those 11 games. They were able to overcome with free throws versus Mabel-Canton and with 3-pointers versus Decorah.

Fast break points are usually layups, which contributed greatly to Spring Grove being outscored inside the free throw lane (points in the paint) by an average of almost 15 points per game.

Backboard blues

Spring Grove was outrebounded in every game; the opponents averaged nearly 42 boards a game to 28 for the Lions.

That disparity was tempered somewhat by the Lions averaging about two and half fewer turnovers per game than the other teams. But the end result was Spring Grove attempting fewer shots from the field - not a recipe for success against the best shooting opponents in the record book.

The future

While the focus of this article is on the team, it was the final high school season for five seniors, five of the primary eight-player rotation - Sydnie Kampschroer, Kailee Olerud, Kyleigh Doering, Alyssa Johnson and Mariah Edgington. 

That quintet was responsible for two-thirds of the points and assists and three-fourths of the rebounds and steals along with 63% of the 3-point baskets and 64% of the made free throws.

But retaining eligibility is junior starting guard Amelia Solum, who is leading scorer and 3-point shooter. Junior reserve Marie Petersen and freshman Jordian Leahy also saw significant court time. 

The rest of the varsity roster - sophomore Erika Donlan along with eighth graders Maggie Lile and Addyson McHugh saw most action during B-team games.

The B-team went 5-13 with a younger-than-usual roster that included 2 seventh graders, 3 eighth graders and 3 freshmen along with only 2 sophomores, 2 juniors and a foreign exchange senior.

In the junior high program, there were an additional 6 eighth graders, another 4 seventh graders and 7 sixth graders.

Editor’s note: Coverage of individual achievement will follow in upcoming award articles.


Looking at the Lions - GIRLS BASKETBALL 2019

Team stats        

Points/game……..SG 54, opp. 62

Rebounds/game...SG 28, opp. 42

Assists/game…….SG 13, opp. 14            

Turnovers/game…SG 21, opp. 24

Steals/game……..SG 15, opp. 15

FT attempt/game..SG 24, opp. 17

FT made/game…..SG 14, opp. 9

FT percentage…...SG 59%, opp. 55%

3-pt attempts/game..SG 20, opp. 14

3-pt made/game……SG 5, opp. 4

3-pt percentage….SG 27%, opp. 32%

FG percentage……SG 32%, opp. 41%

blockedshots, defense..SG104, opp.107

fouls/game………..SG 15, opp. 18            


Spring Grove Girls Basketball versus conference, frequent & recent rivals                     

vs. Mabel-Canton           …………SG leads series 53-51; ……Lions have won last 2

vs. LeRoy-Ostrander……...SG leads series 56-11;….. Lions have won last 24

vs. Lanesboro……………..SG leads series 47-17; …..Lions have won last 22

vs. Houston………………..SG leads series 84-12; ….Houston has won last 4

vs. Schaeffer Academy…..SG leads series 17-1; ………….Lions won first 16

vs. Lyle/Pacelli…………….SG leads series 24-10;……….. L/P has won last 9

vs. Grand Meadow……….SG leads series 36-27; ………..GM has won last 6

vs. Fillmore Central……….SG leads series 20-16; …...FC has won 6 of last 8

vs. La Crescent-Hokah…..SG leads series 15-14; …….Lions have won last 3

vs. Kingsland………………KHS leads series 5-3; …..Knights have won last 4

vs. Randolph………………Randolph leads series 5-2; …..Randolph has won last 4

vs. Waukon………………..Waukon leads series 18-11; ..Waukon has won 7 of last 8

vs. Rushford-Peterson…...R-P leads series 33-18; …...Lions have won last 2

vs. Caledonia……………...Caledonia leads series 59-10; …Caledonia has won last 7

vs. Decorah………………..Decorah leads series 2-1; …..SG won this season



Spring Grove Girls Basketball* SEC game

10-12 (6-6 SEC) end of season

L vs. Lyle/Pacelli* 57-72

W at Lanesboro* 73-45

W at Schaeffer Academy* 63-37

W vs. Mabel-Canton*55-52

W vs. Charles City 68-46

W vs. Decorah 61-56

L at Houston*50-80

L at Grand Meadow 49-93 (non-conf.)

L at Cannon Falls 58-66

W at Rushford-Peterson 61-47

L vs. Kingsland* 46-65

W vs. Lanesboro* 49-44
L at Randolph*51-74

W vs. La Crescent-Hokah 63-58

L vs. Grand Meadow*32-72

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander* 55-42

01-28 at Waukon - canceled

W at Mabel-Canton*51-37

L vs. Caledonia 51-89

L vs. Houston*45-72

L at Fillmore Central 58-69

L at Kingsland* 42-80


L at Kingsland 53-65


B-team Girls 5-13

W vs. Lyle/Pacelli          44-14

L at Lanesboro                        21-31

W at Schaeffer Aca.      35-16

W vs. Mabel-Canton    38-32

W vs. Decorah              37-34

L at Houston                21-37

L at Grand Meadow     24-69

L at Rushford-Peterson 29-46

L vs. Kingsland                        21-56

L vs. Lanesboro                       24-59

L at Randolph              40-46

L vs. La Crescent-Hokah           23-42

L vs. Grand Meadow   22-65

W at Mabel-Canton      30-23

L vs. Caledonia                        28-51

L vs. Houston              27-35

L at Fillmore Central      14-48

L at Kingsland             42-47


8th Grade Girls 4-14

L vs. Lanesboro                       16-23

W at Schaeffer Aca.      17-16

L vs. Lansing Kee        14-21

L at Mabel-Canton        8 -13

L vs. Caledonia                        8-53

L at Rushford-Peterson            7-52

L vs. Kingsland                        13-23

L at Lanesboro                        13-41

W at Houston               23-11

L vs. LeRoy-Ostrander23-24

W vs. Houston             39-25

L vs. Southland                       15-20

L vs. La Crescent-Hokah           21-41

L vs. Grand Meadow   10-38

L vs. Mabel-Canton     23-26

L vs. Caledonia                        13-42

W at Houston               36-11

L at Fillmore Central      9-47


7th Grade Girls 4-10

L vs. Lanesboro                       11-23

L vs. Lansing Kee        24-29

L at Mabel-Canton       14-17

L vs. Caledonia                        10-30

L at Rushford-Peterson   4-41

L vs. Kingsland                        10-39

W at Lanesboro                       20-17

W at Houston               24-11

L vs. La Crescent-Hokah            14-18 OT

L vs. Grand Meadow   15-35

W vs. Mabel-Canton    17-9

L vs. Caledonia                        18-39

W vs. Houston

L at Fillmore Central      4-42