The Lyle/Pacelli Athletics boys’ basketball team played host to defending Section 1A champion Spring Grove in a Southeast Conference matchup Friday night at All Saints Arena, and in front of a raucous Parent’s Night crowd, the Athletics went 10 for 11 from the free-throw line in overtime and outscored the Lions 16-9 in the extra session to win their seventh game in a row 67-60.
In a closely contested, half-court game, LP led early by four, but the Lions were able to work their way in front thanks in most part to eighth-grader Eli Solum, who drilled three 3-point field goals in the first half and wound up with 11 points off the bench for Spring Grove, whose bench outscored Lyle/Pacelli’s 13-0 in the first half. The Lions pushed their lead to as large as eight at 29-21, but the Athletics countered with a quick 8-0 run late in the half, keyed by three-pointers by Cole Walter and Jed Nelson, plus a layup from Zach Bollingberg to tie the game at 29. Solum’s last three of the 1st half with under :10 to go gave Spring Grove a 32-29 lead at the half.
The second half proved to be just like the first, with both teams playing tough man-to-man defense and points at a premium in a half-court game. Spring Grove worked their way in front 47-41, but again LP had the answer as they rallied with a 10-4 run to tie the game at 51 with a chance to win at the end of regulation. A three-pointer from Mach Diang and a putback layup attempt were both no good just before the buzzer, and regulation ended with the two teams tied at 51.
Lyle/Pacelli jumped out to a lead in overtime that they would not relinquish as a layup by Nelson and a three from leading scorer Buay Koak quickly put the Athletics up 56-51. LP still led by five at 62-57 when Caleb Nerstad followed a jumper he missed, snared the offensive rebound, layed the ball in off the glass and drew a foul. He hit the free throw for the Lions to cut LP’s lead to 62-60, but the Athletics were clutch down the stretch from the free throw line, as Bollingberg was 6 for 6, Walter was 2 for 2 and Tyson Anderson was 1 for 2 to keep Spring Grove at bay and clinch the overtime win for Lyle/Pacelli.
LP had three players in double figures with Bollingberg and Nelson, who recently went over 1,000 points for his career both tallying 18 points, Koak added 16 points, Diang tallied 9 points, all in the second half, Walter added 5 points and Anderson tallied one point on the overtime free throw that pushed Lyle/Pacelli’s lead back to two possessions at 64-60.
Eli Solum led Spring Grove in scoring, as he wound up with four threes and a two-point field goal for 14 points off the bench. Caden Grinde, the leading scorer for the Lions tallied 11 points before fouling out early in overtime. Caleb Nerstad and Kyle Hagen each added 10 points for Spring Grove.
With the win, Lyle/Pacelli moves to 4-2 in the SEC and 7-3 overall, while Spring Grove drops to 3-2 in conference play and 5-4 overall on the season. The Athletics are back into action Monday night, with a game at Crestwood, Iowa. Varsity tip-off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.