Boys claim outright title during three-win week

LEFT: Isaac Griffin advances the ball against full-court press during win versus Schaeffer Academy. CENTER: Reid Bjerke shoots over Schaeffer’s Aidan Kluth. RIGHT: Payton Leahy works against backcourt pressure from Schaeffer defender Ebube Mordi. Photos by S. Lee Epps
By : 
Lee Epps

The Spring Grove boys (17-4, 13-0 SEC) opened a three-win week with a 52-35decision at Grand Meadow, locking down a ninth straight outright SEC East championship while dealing a near death blow to the West Division title of hopes of the Superlarks. 

Both teams had been state-ranked the previous week, but the Lions had dropped down to No. 20 and Grand Meadow had dropped out of the top 20 by game time on Feb. 11. 

It was the third straight road game in four days for Spring Grove, which snapped its first three-game losing slide in nine years - albeit all three setbacks having come against formidable state-ranked competition.

On Valentine's Day and Parents Night at Fillmore Central, the Lions then evened the all-time series with the winless Falcons with a 69-33blowout at Preston. After Fillmore Central won the first 10 games against Spring Grove, the Lions have taken the last nine with the series now tied at 16 wins each.

Making up a earlier-in-the-week postponement, the Grove guys came back on Saturday evening (Feb. 16) to vanquish visiting Schaeffer Academy, 75-45. Extending their conference winning streak to 73 games, the small town Lions from Houston County have now won all 19 games played against the big city Lions from Rochester. 

Senior point guard Alex Folz scored 21, 26 and 20 points in the three contests while sophomore Caden Grinde also turned in double-figure scoring all three nights. Senior forward Ethan Matzke averaged more than 7 rebounds and just under 5 assists during the week.


SG 52, Grand Meadow 35

Spring Grove limited the Superlarks to 35 points, a season low for Grand Meadow (16-5) and for all Lion opponents this season. But it was a close game until early in the second half.

After six lead changes, the Lions scored the final five points before halftime, breaking a 21-21 tie to take a 26-21 edge into intermission. 

Spring Grove opened the second half with an 8-to-2 run, and after three Folz 3-point field goals, led 40-26. The Superlarks would get no closer than nine points the rest of the way.

GM shot a hot 43% from the field before halftime but slipped down to 33% after the break. Not only did SG shoot slightly better overall (42% to 39%) but also shot more often due to five more offensive rebounds and six fewer turnovers (9 to 15).

The Lions were markedly better from 3-point land, going 7 for 20 (35%) while limiting the Larks to 17% (2 for 12).

Folz finished with 4 treys on the way to game highs with 21 points and 9 rebounds plus 4 assists and 4 steals. Grinde went 2 for 3 beyond the arc while adding 11 points.

"After three tough losses in a row, the players and coaches bounced back," said coach Wade Grinde, "and now have an even better idea of who we are and what we need to work on to be successful in March."

Grand Meadow won the B-teamgame 47-40while the Lions claimed the junior high contest, 40-37.

SG 52, Grand Meadow 35

>>SG  26+26=52

>>GM 21+14=35


P-points, R-rebounds, A-assists, S-steals, B-blocked shots. 

Listed in order of jersey number. * starter

Boyd 4P, 3R; 

Grinde11P, 1R, 1A, 2S; 

Matzke 8P, 6R, 4A, 2S, 1B; 

Folz 21P, 9R, 4A, 4S; 

K. Bjerke 2P, 2R, 3A, 1S; 

Griffin 2P; 

Elton 4P, 6R, 3A, 1S; 

also playing - Kyle Hagen, Payton Leahy;

out injured Wyatt Murphy 



all FG: SG 42% ( 21-50), GM 39% (14-36)

2-pt FG: SG 47% (14-30), GM 50% (12-24)

3-pt FG:SG 35% (7-20), GM 17% (2-12

Free throws: SG 50% (3-6), GM 83% (5-6)

Rebounds: SG 27, GM 21

Turnovers: SG 9, GM 15

Fast break pts.: SG 6, GM 2

Perimeter pts: SG 23, GM 11

Pts. in paint: SG 29, GM 24

Fouls: SG 10, GM 10


SG 69, Fillmore Central 33

It was all Lions all the way as Spring Grove shot a splendid 55% from the field and 67% from the foul line along with three times as many assists (21) as turnovers (7) and a huge 30-to-11 rebounding bulge - all while whistled for only 4 fouls - the fewest in the 19 years for which single-game records remain. 

The Falcons’ 11 rebounds were the fewest for a Lion opponent in a dozen years. Their eight first-half points were the fewest for a Spring Grove opponent in two seasons.

Folz sank six 3-point baskets while scoring 26 points and dishing out 7 assists with only 2 turnovers.

Four Lions scored in double figures with Grinde adding 16, Noah Elton 11 and Kai Bjerke 10.

Elton grabbed 8 rebounds and Matzke 7.

Seven different Lions had more assists than turnovers, including Matzke (4 assists), Kyle Hagen (2) and Takoda Boyd (1) - each with no turnovers.

The winless Falcons (0-22), after only three field goals in the first half, executed their offense much better and shot 48% in the second half after only 20% success before halftime.

Fillmore Central depended heavily on 5-foot-8 senior point guard Josh Peters, who with 19 points, scored over half of the team's points.

The Lion B-teamcould not maintain a halftime lead and fell 44-27.  The Spring Grove eighth graders hung on for a 30-26 victory, but the Falcons took the seventh grade game 47-38.

SG 69, Fillmore Central 33

>>SG 28+41=69

>>FC    8+25=33


Boyd 3R, 1A, 2S; 

Grinde16P, 4R, 4A, 2S; 

Matzke 6P, 7R, 4A, 2S; 

Folz 26P, 4R, 7A, 3S; 

K. Bjerke 10P, 2R; 

Elton 11P, 8R, 3A; 

Hagen 2R, 2A; 

also playing - Griffin; 

out injured -Murphy, Leahy 



all FG: SG 55% (25-45), FC 36% (13-36)

2-pt FG: SG 69% (18-26), FC 31% (8-26)

3-pt FG:SG 37% (7-19), FC 50% (5-10)

Fr. throws: SG 67% (12-18), FC 50% (2-4)

Rebounds: SG 30, FC 11

Turnovers: SG 7, FC 15

Fast break pts.: SG 10, FC 7

Perimeter pts.: SG 23, FC 15

Pts. in paint: SG 44, FC 16

Fouls: SG 4, FC 14


SG 75, Schaeffer 45

Spring Grove shot a strong 57% from the field overall, including a blistering season-best 52% from 3-point land (12 for 23). Firing over the Schaeffer zone defense, the "boys in black" buried nine treys (and seven 2-pointers) on the way to a 42-20 halftime lead before adding another three triples while outscoring Schaeffer 33-25 after the break. 

Beyond the arc, Folz went 5 for 9, Grinde 3 for 5, Matzke 3 for 4 and Boyd 1 for 1.

With junior Wyatt Murphy still on the injured list, all 11 available Lions played; 10 scored. Folz closed with 20 points with 13 each from Matzke and Grinde. Matzke, with 9 rebounds, was one ricochet away from a double double to go with 3 steals, a blocked shot and 6 assists with only one turnover.

The team recorded a season-high 24 assists with 7 each from Grinde and Folz. 

Each team hit a 3-pointer to start the game, but SG had 16 baskets while missing only nine shots in the first half.

Attempting almost as many shots beyond the arc as inside, Spring Grove did not get to the foul line often. The home team hit 5 of 7 free throws while the visiting Lions went 11 for 16.

Defense was again a major factor for SG as Schaeffer (11-12, 5-8 SEC) had to work long and hard to get a good look at the basket. The visitors also often settled for 3-point attempts but were not nearly as successful (4 for 19, 21%). 

Junior guard Isaiah Lahr led Schaeffer with 13 points while 6-foot-4 freshman Luke Kottom pulled down 8 rebounds.

The Spring Grove B-team(10-8) won an exciting game, 42-39, against much taller opposition. There were no junior high games.

SG 75, Schaeffer Academy 45

>>SG 42+33=75

>>SA 20+25=45


Leahy 3P, 2S; 

Boyd 5P, 4R, 2S; 

Reid Bjerke 2P, 1R, 1A; 

*Grinde13P, 2R, 7A, 3S; 

*Matzke 13P, 9R, 6A, 3S, 1B; 

*Folz 20P, 5R, 7A; 

*Kai Bjerke 7P, 1A, 1S ; 

Griffin 1P, 1R; 

*Elton 6P, 3R, 2A, 1S, 1B; 

Hagen 4P, 2R, 1S; 

Also playing - Michels

Out injured-Murphy



all FG: SG 57% (29-51), SA 34% (15-44)

2-pt FG: SG 61% (17-28), SA 4% (11-25)

3-pt FG:SG 52% (12-23), SA 21% (4-19)

Free throws: SG71% (5-7), SA 69% (11-16)

Rebounds: SG 27, SA 18

Turnovers: SG 14, SA 18

2nd Chance pts.: SG 14, SA 65

Fast break pts.:SG 10, SA 9

Perimeter pts.: SG 39, SA 12

Pts. in paint: SG 33, SA 27

Fouls: SG 18, SA 14


This week and next

The last week of the regular season opened on Tuesday (after the Herald went to press) with a non-conference rematch with Grand Meadow on Parents Night in Spring Grove. 

The Superlarks are coached by Dakotah Rostad, the Spring Grove Male Athlete of the Year in 2010, who scored 910 points on the basketball court and still holds the Spring Grove single season record by a wide margin with a 3.95 assist-to-turnover ratio in 2009.

The Lions can wrap up a fourth straight undefeated conference campaign as the regular season ends at Lanesboro on Friday, Feb. 22.

The section tournament begins next week with Spring Grove, one of three state-ranked squads in Section 1A, expected to host an opening round game on Thursday, Feb. 28, before quarterfinal action resumes in Rochester on March 4 and 5.


SoutheastConference2019BoysBasketball(updated since print edition with Feb. 18 results)                  


Spring Grove* 13-0 SEC (17-4 season)                           

Kingsland 7-3 SEC (14-10 season)                 

Houston 5-8 SEC (12-12 season)            

Lanesboro 4-9 SEC (9-13 season)           

Mabel-Canton 4-9 SEC (8-16 season)                                                                                  

*clinched division championship  


Randolph* 13-1 SEC (21-2 season)                                

Grand Meadow 10-4 SEC (18-6 season)                        

Schaeffer Academy 5-8 SEC (11-13 season)              

LeRoy-Ostrander 5-8 SEC (11-13 season)                

Lyle/Pacelli 4-9 SEC (6-13 season)                                                 

Glenville-Emmons 0-13 SEC (0-19 season)  

*clinched division championship  



Spring Grove Boys Basketball 

17-4 (12-0 SEC) approximately 7:15 unless noted -* SEC games          

W vs. Glenville-Emmons* 69-35

W vs. Houston* 53-37

L vs. Charles City 56-58

W at Kingsland*62-59

W at Mabel-Canton*51-38

W vs. Randolph*66-45

W at Lyle/Pacelli* 65-40

W at Cannon Falls 67-42

W at La Crescent-Hokah 56-51

W vs. Lanesboro* 72-51

W vs. Decorah 74-62

W vs. Kingsland*60-57

W at Houston* 74-47

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 69-45

01-28 Waukon - canceled

01-29 at Grand Meadow* postponed to Feb. 11

W vs. Mabel-Canton*63-31

L vs. Rushford-Peterson 65-69 

L at Mayer Lutheran 53-65

L at Christ’s Household of Faith 52-58

W at Grand Meadow*52-35

W at Fillmore Central 69-33

W vs. Schaeffer Academy 75-45

02-19Grand Meadow (non-conf.)

02-22at Lanesboro*


B-team Boys 10-8

W vs. Glenville-Emmons    47-10

W vs. Houston               67-21

W at Kingsland               43-40

W at Mabel-Canton         49-20

L vs. Randolph               30-51

L at Lyle/Pacelli              41-51

L at La Crescent-Hokah  35-43

W vs. Lanesboro             43-38

L vs. Decorah                 29-50

W vs. Kingsland             48-29

W at Houston                 52-20

W vs. Mabel-Canton       63-24

L vs. Rushford-Peterson  33-40

L at Mayer Lutheran        38-45

W at CHOF                    38-37

L at Grand Meadow         40-47

L at Fillmore Central        27-44

W vs. Schaeffer Academy           42-39


8th Grade Boys 13-1

W vs. Caledonia            62-22

W vs. Lanesboro             39-26

W vs. Houston               65 - 4

W at Kingsland               40-17    

W at Mabel-Canton         50 – 9

W at La Crescent-Hokah35-30

W vs. Lanesboro             29-18

W vs. Kingsland             51-5

W at Houston                 54-0

W vs. Mabel-Canton       61-20

L vs. Rushford-Peterson  38-39

W at Caledonia

W at Grand Meadow        40-37

W at Fillmore Central       30-26


7th Grade Boys 5-6

W vs. Caledonia             49-30

L vs. Lanesboro              28-33

W at Kingsland               49-21

W at Mabel-Canton         44 – 8

L at La Crescent-Hokah  23-42

L vs. Lanesboro              19-40    

W vs. Kingsland             38-23

W vs. Mabel-Canton       36-10

L vs. Rushford-Peterson  12-37

L at Caledonia

L at Fillmore Central        38-47