Boys control Kee, fall to Schaeffer, drop border battle

TOP LEFT: Carson Gerard sends a pass to Tysen Grinde during Lion win against Kee High. TOP RIGHT: John Koch draws contact after faking a Stratford defender into the air. LOWER RIGHT: Caleb Griffin scores with a rebound against Kee High. LOWER LEFT: Hunter Holland is fouled on the way to the basket against Schaeffer Academy. Photos by S. Lee Epps
S. Lee Epps

One contest came down to the final shot in the final seconds as the Spring Grove boys (9-10, 6-5 SEC) coasted to a comfortable win before coming up short against a pair of tough 15-win teams. 

The Lion lads opened last week on Jan. 27 with a season-high 77 points and 43-point non-conference romp over visiting Kee High (Lansing, Iowa), but they would not get to 40 points in either of the late-week losses.

Those overwhelmed Kee Hawks managed only a dozen baskets, and so did league-leading Schaeffer Academy (15-4, 10-2 SEC) four nights later in the same gymnasium.

But 12 buckets would be enough for a 15th victory for those Schaeffer Lions, 34-31, in a titanic defensive struggle. The defenses permitted only 65 total points, the fewest in 29 years - since a 33-31 Spring Grove win over Houston in the 1990-91 season.

Undefeated Wisconsin state-ranked No. 2 Stratford (15-0) would also notch a 15th win this season against Spring Grove in a 60-39 decision at the 14th Annual Minnesota vs. Wisconsin Border Battle. At 10 a.m. on Feb. 1, it was the first of a seven-game slate at La Crosse and a quick turnaround from the Friday night tight tussle against Schaeffer.

SG 77, Kee High 34

A dozen Lions scored and nine were credited with assists as Spring Grove ball handlers had a season-best assist-to-turnover ratio with 17 assists and only 7 turnovers. 

The Lions' season-high 53% from the field resulted from 16 steals and 20 fast-break-layup points in addition to sizzling 41% shooting (9 for 22) beyond the 3-point arc.

Not only did Spring Grove shoot better than did the visitors (33%), the Lions also shot more often due to 10 more offensive rebounds and 13 fewer turnovers (7 to 20).

Caden Grinde had 15 points and 6 steals while Caleb Nerstad scored 11 points along with 4 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots. Another six Lions scored between 5 and 9 points, including center John Koch with 7 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

The home fans were most enthused when Alan Michels (6 points) buried a pair of late 3-pointers, pushing the team total to nine treys, the team's second-best total of the season (10 vs. Houston). 

Six different Lions nailed 3-balls, including a trio (3 for 3) by freshman Hunter Holland in his third straight starting assignment.

Freshman Tysen Grinde came off the bench for 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 thefts.

It was the highest scoring game of the season for Spring Grove, surpassing the 69 points against Dover-Eyota. The Lions hit only one of their first seven shots, but they warmed up with 7-of-12 shooting while taking an 18-to-6 lead.

Grove led by 10 before an 11-to-2 run - capped by two Holland triples - made it 37-18 at halftime. The Lions then scored 18 of the first 20 points of the second half, and it was then a 55-20 blowout.

Kee High (6-9) had balanced scoring with seven Hawks tallying, but none with more than the eight points from sophomore guard Damon Weber.

It was the teams' first meeting in six seasons as Spring Grove extended its all-time lead to 12 wins in the 15-game series. The Lions were 3-2 versus New Albin High back in the 1950s and 1-3 versus Lansing in the 1980s.

In the 43-30 B-team win, Reid Bjerke had 11 points and 5 assists while Tysen Grinde put in 9 points and rebounded 10 times. There were no junior high games


SG   37+40=77

Kee 18+16=34 

Rebounds: SG 32, Kee 21 

Turnovers: SG 7, Kee 20 

All FG: SG 53%, Kee 33% 

2-pt FG: SG 60%, Kee 43%

3-pt FG: SG 41% (9-22), Kee 0% (0-8)

Free throws: SG 40% (6-20), Kee 77% (10-13)

P-points, R-rebounds, A-assists, S-steals, B-blocks, * starter

Griffin 2P, 2R, 1A; Leahy 4P, 1S; *Nerstad 11P, 3R, 4A, 4S, 2B; Bjerke 2P, 2R; Michels 6P; *Grinde, C. 15P, 3R, 3A, 6S, 1B; Grinde, T. 7P, 2R, 1A, 3S; *Holland 9P, 2R, 2A, 1S; *Koch 7P, 10R, 1A; Gerard 1R, 2A; *Hagen 7P, 4R, 2A, 1S; Murphy 5P, 2R, 1B; Solum 2P, 1R, 1A; also playing Flatin and Olson


Schaeffer Academy 34, SG 31 

Defense dominated on both ends of the court. The only scoring in the final four minutes were two Schaeffer free throws with 15 seconds remaining. After moving ahead 29-28, Spring Grove hit only 1 of its last 11 shots, missing a pair of very late 3-point attempts before the buzzer sounded.

A rebound basket by Luke Kottom put Schaeffer ahead 30-29 about halfway through the second half (9:40). 

The visiting Lions would not add another basket and left the door open by twice missing the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity. But Spring Grove would be able to get only one shot to fall in the final 10 minutes.

The Grove guys attempted only seven 3-point shots and missed them all, six of which came late as they were unable to penetrate the Schaeffer defense. Meanwhile, the visitors had only 1-for-11 success from 3-ball territory. 

Despite that 3-point futility, both teams shot very well closer to the basket (SG 44%, SA 58%) and reasonably well overall (SG 35%, SA 40%). 

But even with respectably few turnovers (SG 12, SA 13), the teams managed few shots (SG 38, SA 32) while being denied by lock-down defenses. Of the 65 total points, 51 were scored in the lane, but neither team could get in there very often.

Both teams had 12 field goals, but Schaeffer had one trey for a one-point advantage from the field and a two-point edge from the foul line. Grove netted 7 of 11 free throws (64%) and Schaffer 9 of 12 (75%).

Spring Grove defenders did the best they could to keep the ball away from Kottom. But the 6-foot-6 center hit 4 of 5 shots from the field and 7 of 9 free throws for a game-high 15 points along with 6 rebounds.

Kyle Hagen matched those game-best 6 boards while Caden Grinde led Spring Grove scoring with 11 points and Nerstad added 9.

Coming into this season, Spring Grove had won all 19 games against Schaeffer. But the big-city Lions completed a season sweep after winning 50-38 earlier in Rochester.

With two SEC games remaining, Schaeffer now has a game-and-half lead over second-place Houston in the SEC East Division.

The Grove B-team(11-3) completed a season sweep with a 56-34win with Tysen Grinde scoring 13 points and Caleb Griffin 10.

The Grove eighth graders (9-2) won 34-28 as did the 10-1 seventh graders 44-3.


SG 23+ 8=31 

SA 22+12=34  

Rebounds: SG 19, SA 16 

Turnovers: SG 12, SA 13 

All FG: SG 35%, SA 40% 

2-pt FG: SG 44%, SA 58%

3-pt FG: SG 0% (0-7), SA 9% (1-11)

Free throws: SG 64% (7-11), SA 75% (9-12) 

*Nerstad 9P, 2A, 1S; *Grinde, C. 11P, 3R, 2A, 4S; *Holland 1R; *Koch 5P, 4R, 1A, 1S, 1B; Gerard 2P, 1R, 1A, 2S; *Hagen 2P, 6R, 1A, 3S; Murphy 2R; Solum 2P, 2R; also playing - Leahy


Stratford (Wis.) 60, SG 39

After contending with Schaeffer's 6-6 center, Spring Grove faced a tall tandem of 6-6 Ben Barten and 6-5 Vaughn Breit, who scored 15 and 17 points, respectively. The Stratford starting lineup was all seniors, averaging well over 6-3.

Despite that height, the Lions out-rebounded the state-ranked Tigers 23 to 20 with a game-high 9 boards from 6-4 Koch.

With 10 more offensive rebounds, the Lions attempted the most shots, but did not shoot nearly as well (30%) as the hot-shooting Tigers, whose 55% was the best of any opponent in the 19 games thus far.

Stratford had the best 3-point accuracy of any Lion opponent thus far (7 for 12, 59%) and the best free throw percentage (19-20, 95%) of any opponent with more than four attempts.

SG was a chilly 21% from downtown (4 for 19 treys) but hit a pretty good 7-for-11 (64%) from the foul line for the second time in 16 hours.

When the Tiger guards were able to pass the ball inside to their two tall teammates, the Lion defense adapted by dropping back a bit. But the Tiger guards then began tossing in the 3-balls with 6-3 Dawson Danen netting a trio of treys while scoring 13 points.

Caden Grinde outside (23 points) and Koch inside (6 points) were the only Lions to attempt more than five shots from the field.

Stratford is a Division 4 school (second smallest enrollment division) with an enrollment about three times that of Spring Grove. Stratford is in central Wisconsin between Marshfield and Wausau.


SG   26+13=39 

SHS 30+30=60  

Rebounds: SG 23, SHS 20 

Turnovers: SG 13, SHS 12

All FG: SG 30%, SHS 55%

2-pt FG: SG 36%, SHS 53%

3-pt FG: SG 21% (4-19), SHS 59% (7-12)

Free throws: SG 64% (7-11), SHS 95% (19-20)

*Nerstad 2P, 3R, 1A; *Grinde, C. 23P, 3R, 1S, 1B; *Koch 6P, 9R, 2A, 2S, 1B; Gerard 3P, 1R, 2A, 1S; *Hagen 1P, 3R, 2A, 1S; Solum 4P, 4R, 1S, 1B; also playing - *Holland, Murphy, Griffin, Leahy, Bjerke, Michels, Tysen Grinde, 

This week and next

The Lion boys hosted Fillmore Central as the Herald was going to press on Monday of this week 24 hours before the SEC rematch at Lanesboro,

The boys will back on the bus to Spring Valley on Friday (Feb. 7) to face Kingsland. The Lions play a makeup game at Grand Meadow on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

The Grove guys will be back in black while hosting Class AA Cannon Falls in a boys-girls varsity double header on Saturday, Feb. 15. The girls tip off at 4 p.m. with the boys to follow at approximately 6 p.m.


SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE Boys Basketball 2020 (updated since print edition through Feb. 3 games)


Schaeffer Academy…10-2 (15-4 season)

Houston…………………8-3 (13-9 season)

Spring Grove………..6-5 (10-10 season)

Lanesboro……………...3-8 (8-11 season)

Mabel-Canton…………1-12 (3-16 season)


Grand Meadow……….10-2 (15-5 season)

Randolph……………….10-2 (14-6 season)

Lyle/Pacelli……………9-4 (13-6 season)

LeRoy-Ostrander.…...6-8 (9-12 season)

Kingsland…………….…4-8 (6-15 season)

Glenville-Emmons…..0-13 (2-17 season)


Spring Grove Boys Basketball 2020 (updated since print edition)

>>>10-10 (6-5 SEC)

*conference games - approximately 7:15 p.m. unless noted

W vs. Mabel-Canton* 64-25.

W at Houston*63-58 (OT)

W vs.  Lanesboro*55-41                               

L vs. Crestwood 36-51

L at Schaeffer Academy*38-50

L vs. Randolph* 40-54

W vs. Dover-Eyota at Rushford 69-62

W vs. Nevis at Rushford 54-49

L at Lyle/Pacelli* 60-67

L at Decorah 33-54

L at Rushford-Peterson 44-56

W vs. Glenville-Emmons* 59-20

L vs. Houston*53-56 OT 

L at Waukon 44-52

W at Mabel-Canton*48-24

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander*65-30

W vs. Lansing Kee 77-34

L vs. Schaeffer Academy* 31-34                 

L vs. Stratford *Wis.) 39-60

W vs. Fillmore Central 68-41

Tues. 02-04 at Lanesboro*

Fri. 02-07 at Kingsland*

Tues. 02-11 at Grand Meadow*

Sat. 02-15 #Cannon Falls 6 P.M.

Mon. 02-17 La Crescent-Hokah


>>>B-team Boys 12-3

W vs. Mabel- Canton 39-35

W at Houston 67-12

W vs. Lanesboro 55-31

W at Schaeffer Academy 42-38

W at Lyle/Pacelli 44-38

 L at Decorah 26-42

L at Rushford-Peterson 44-56

W vs. Glenville-Emmons 58-23

W vs. Houston 56-14

L at Waukon 39-41

W vs. Mabel-Canton 43-30

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 67-17

W vs. Lansing Kee 43-30

W vs. Schaeffer Academy 56-34

W vs. Fillmore Central 47-28


>>8th Grade Boys 10-2

W vs. Mabel-Canton 35-21

W at Houston 27-17

W vs. Caledonia 33-31 (OT)

L vs. Lanesboro17-42

W at Schaeffer Academy 39-32

W at Caledonia 32-27

L at Rushford-Peterson 18-40

W vs. Houston 43-8

W vs. Mabel-Canton 43-18

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 42-21

W vs. Schaeffer Academy 34-28

W vs. Fillmore Central 37-29


>>7th Grade Boys 11-1

W vs. Mabel-Canton 26-6

W at Houston 37-18

L vs. Caledonia 24-37

W vs. Lanesboro 40-16

W at Schaeffer Academy 34-10

W at Caledonia 42-40

W at Rushford-Peterson 34-33

W vs. Houston 

W at Mabel-Canton 35-19

W vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 42-22

W vs. Schaeffer Academy 44-3

W vs. Fillmore Central 36-24