Kai Bjerke scores over Kevin Isaacs, the largest Alaskan on the court. Photo by S. Lee Epps
Kai Bjerke scores over Kevin Isaacs, the largest Alaskan on the court. Photo by S. Lee Epps
Non-conference games are often a chance for high school basketball teams to schedule teams they don’t normally get a chance to see. The Spring Grove boys faced someone they likely won’t see again, taking on the Klawock Chieftains from Alaska on Dec. 28 at the Rushford-Peterson Holiday Invitational. The Lions used transition points and points in the paint to come away with a 94-64 win over the visitors from up north. The Lions are 4-2 overall (2-0 SEC).

The visitors from Klawock (pronounced kluh-WOCK) came out firing from long range in their matchup with the Spring Grove boys, hitting enough 3-pointers to keep the game close for a while. However, they were ultimately undone by turnovers against the Spring Grove trapping defensive pressure. There were four ties and four lead changes before Spring Grove pulled away from the Chieftains with an 18-2 run on the way to a 50-31 halftime lead.

Caden Grinde came off the bench to spark that scoring spree with 4 steals and 3 fast-break baskets. As one of five Lions hitting double-figures, the freshman guard finished with 12 points, 5 steals, and 2 assists.

Alex Folz led Spring Grove in scoring with 25 points and 9 rebounds while Ethan Matzke had an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double.

Noah Elton added 19 points and Sam Sanness 13. Adin Solum had a career-high 6 steals and a team-best 7 assists with only one non-ball handling turnover

Klawock (2-2) was led by a couple of sharpshooting seniors; Nate Yockey tallied a double-double with 29 points and 13 rebounds while Trae Marvin scored 20 points.

The Chieftains shot very well, hitting 45% of their shots (22 of 49), including a very good 39% from 3-point range (9 of 23). However, they didn’t shoot enough as they finished the night with 37 turnovers. The Lions took 39 more shots than the Chieftains (88 to 49) and made 19 more field goals (41 to 22).

The Spring Grove offense came in the paint and on-the-run, getting 29 fast-break, lay-up points, and 73 of their 94 points came in the paint, allowing the Lions to shoot 47% (41 of 88) from the field.

At the other end of the spectrum, Spring Grove was a season-worst 33%, 5 of 15 from the free-throw line.

For the second-straight game, state-ranked at No. 15 Spring Grove finished with only 11 turnovers while coming up with an impressive 26 steals.

This was the early game of a holiday doubleheader hosted by Rushford-Peterson. In the second game, the host Trojans crushed Mankato-Loyola 74-35.

As this issue of the Herald was going to press on Dec. 29, the Friday twin bill had Spring Grove playing Loyola and Klawock facing R-P. The Chieftains complete their Minnesota road trip with a game at Houston.

Klawock is one of four towns located on Prince of Wales Island, the fourth largest island in the United States. It’s located at the southern end of the Alaskan panhandle about 2,467 miles from Spring Grove, according to Google Maps.

Just what kind of a road trip was it for the Chieftains? The players and fans had a three-hour ferry ride to Ketchikan, where they boarded a two-hour flight to Seattle and then a three-hour flight on to Minnesota.

New Year schedule

After wrapping up the holiday doubleheader, the Lions start the new year on Thursday, Jan. 4, at home against Grand Meadow before heading to Decorah, Iowa, the next night to play a game that had to be rescheduled due to the extended length of the football season.

In another game that had to be rescheduled because of a power outage in Rushford, the Lions head to Rushford-Peterson on Monday, Jan. 8.

SG 94, Klawock 64

Individuals: * starters. In order of jersey number: P-points, R-rebounds, A-assists, S-steals, B-blocked shots.

Boyd 1R, 2S

Nerstad 1R, 1B

Grinde 12P, 3R, 2A, 5S

*Solum 7R, 7A, 6S

Bergrud 1S

*Matzke 18P, 12R, 2A, 3S

*Folz 25P, 9R, 2A, 4S

Bjerke 7P, 4S

*Elton 19P, 2R, 1S

*Sanness 13P, 7R, 1A

also playing - Leahy, Hagen



SG 50 + 44 = 94

KHS 31 + 33 = 64

all FG: SG 47% (41-88), KHS 45% (22-49)

2-pt FG: SG 54% (34-63), KHS 50% (13-26)

3-pt FG: SG 28% (7-25), KHS 39% (9-23)

Free throws: SG 33% (5-15), KHS 65% (11-17)

Rebounds: SG 42, KHS 32

Turnovers: SG 11, KHS 37

2nd Chance pts: SG 23, KHS 6

Fast break pts: SG 28, KHS 9

Pts. in paint: SG 73, KHS 26

Greatest Lead: SG 33, KHS 5

Lead Changes: 4

Fouls: SG 20, KHS 14

SEC Boys Basketball

As of Jan. 1 games


Spring Grove...2-0 (5-2 all)

Schaeffer Aca..3-1 (7-4 all)

Mabel-Canton.1-3 (4-5 all)

Houston………1-3 (2-6 all)

Lanesboro ….. 0-1 (0-8 all)


LeRoy-Ostrander..4-0 (9-1 all)

Randolph…………4-1 (6-3 all)

Grand Meadow….1-3 (4-4 all)

Lyle/Pacelli……….1-3 (5-5 all)

Glenville-Emmons.0-2 (1-5 all)


Spring Grove Boys Basketball 2017-2018

Updated since print edition

5-2 (2-0 SEC) *conference game - approximately 7:15 unless noted

>>>Breakdown Classic at Hopkins

L vs. Springfield 63-86

W at Fillmore Central 79-56

W at Mabel-Canton* 62-43

>>Iowa/Minn. Border Battle at Luther College

L vs. New Hampton (Iowa) 57-62

W vs. Houston* 71-50

>>Holiday double headers at Rushford-Peterson

W vs. Kiawok (Alaska) 94-64

W vs. Mankato Loyola 82-41

Thur.....1/04.....Grand Meadow (non-conf.)

Fri........1/05.....at Decorah 7:30 pm

Mon.....1/08.....at Rushford-Peterson 7:30 pm


>>Midwest Classic at La Crosse Center

Sat.......1/13.....vs. La Crosse Aquinas 1:10 pm

Tues....1/16.....at Lanesboro*

Mon....1/22.....at Waukon 7:30 pm


>>Border Battle at Steven's Point, Wis.

Sat......1/27.....vs. S.P. Pacelli 11:30 am

Tues....1/30....at Lyle/Pacelli* (Austin)

Thur....2/01....Schaeffer Academy*

Fri.......2/02....at Houston*

Mon....2/05....at Glenville-Emmons*


Sat......2/10.....at Schaeffer Academy*

Mon....2/12....at La Crescent 7:30 pm

Fri.......2/16....at Grand Meadow*





2-1 (2-0 SEC)

L at Fillmore Central 25-27

W at Mabel-Canton 54-21

W vs. Houston 49-19



3-1 (2-0 SEC)

L at Caledonia 32-56

W at Fillmore Central 34-25

W at Mabel-Canton 44-27

W vs. Houston 56-15



4-0 (2-0 SEC)

W at Caledonia 52-10

W at Fillmore Central 32-21

W at Mabel-Canton 49-16

W vs. Houston 41-13