Defense fuels section win against Wabasha-Kellogg

LEFT: Takoda Boyd slices through Wabasha-Kellogg defenders to the basket. RIGHT: Caden Grinde scores in section opening victory. Photos by S. Lee Epps
By : 
Lee Epps

It is an eighth straight 20-win season for the Spring Grove boys, but win number 20 for the state-ranked No. 20 Lions (20-4) came surely if not smoothly on the last night in February in the Section 1A Tournament as the No. 1 seed hosted and dispensed with - mostly with defense - the No. 16 seed, Wabasha-Kellogg, 45-24.

This week and next

The next stop for Spring Grove was in the quarterfinals at Rochester, a third matchup with No. 8 seed Houston on Tuesday of this week (after the Herald went to press). 

In the first round, the Hurricanes (13-14) trailed by double digits in the second half before rallying for a 55-54 home win over No. 9 Bethlehem Academy. The Lions defeated Houston twice in regular season, conference games 53-37 and 74-47.

The winner moves on to the semi-finals on Saturday, March 9 at 4 p.m. in the Rochester Mayo Civic Center Auditorium. The opponent will be either No. 4 seed Hayfield or No. 5 Blooming Prairie.

The Section 1A championship game is in the Civic Center Arena at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 14.

SG 45, Wabasha-Kellogg 24

It was a tournament atmosphere with the Spring Grove student body providing enthusiastic support. The home crowd appropriately stood for recognition as the seniors departed the action for the final time on their home floor.

It was a defensive duel with Spring Grove taking a 23-5 lead into halftime. After 20 of their 26 turnovers coming before the break, the Falcons (6-21) executed their offense better in the second half and were outscored only 22-19 after intermission. But W-K never got closer than 14 points while trailing by as many as 22.

It was 3-point futility for both teams. Spring Grove, posting a good 36% beyond the arc for the season, shot a season-low 17% this night (4 for 23). 

W-K shot only 11 times from downtown but hit only one - only 28 seconds before the final buzzer.

"This game was a defensive gem on the part of our guys! Said coach Wade Grinde. "Only giving up five points in the first half in a playoff game was very impressive.  The rest of the game was simply a grinder in which we proved we could play with discipline and not panic if the shots weren't falling."

Ethan Matzke turned in a 15-point, 13-rebound double double while Noah Elton added 13 points and Folz 10.

Folz had 6 steals and Caden Grinde 4 thefts to lead the defensive effort. 

Defenses prevailed, especially early, with the Lions missing shots and the Falcons not getting shots. The SG defense forced three charging fouls and a pair of 5-second violations among the visitors' 11 turnovers during their first 12 possessions with only two shot attempts. 

By halftime, W-K had 20 turnovers, only nine shots and five points - the fewest first-half points given up by SG in 12 years (Hope Lutheran had only two free throws in 2007.)

Meanwhile, five and a half minutes elapsed before the first points were scored - a 3-0 Lion lead with an Alex Folz 3-point field goal.

Oddly enough, that was when the Falcons abandoned their man-to-man defense for their first of two different zones. That man defense had been successful in limiting the Lions to mostly 3-point attempts. And the Grove guys went scoreless with their first seven shot attempts, six of which from 3-point land.

The Lions started slowly again in the second half with four minutes and 40 seconds going by before changing the scoreboard.

Overall, SG outshot W-K 35% to 31%. But with 12 fewer turnovers (14 to 26) and seven more offensive rebounds, the Lions closed with 51 official shot attempts to only 29 for the visitors. The home team held a 29-to-24 rebounding advantage.

Free throws were of little consequence with the Lions hitting 5 of 10 charity shots and the Falcons going 5 for 13.

It was the lowest score for both teams all season and the fewest total points (69) in a Spring Grove game in 16 years, since the 35-21 win (56 points) over Mabel-Canton in 2003. It was the Lions' fewest points in a win in 13 seasons since defeating Mabel-Canton 39-34 in 2006.

It was the playoff opener for the Lions, while the Falcons (6-21) came in off a play-in win over No. 17 Mabel-Canton. 

Six Falcon juniors and two sophomores saw significant playing time for W-K, which lists no seniors on the roster. The Falcon point guard was lost to injury before the season began.

SG and W-K have met only eight times, but this was their fourth playoff matchup in the last six seasons. The series is now even with the Falcons winning the first four games (including a 2011 play-off upset) and Spring Grove taking the last four. 

The last five meetings have been in postseason - all with the Lions being the higher seed, most recently with Lion victories in both 2015 and 2016.

SG 45, W-K 24

>>SG 23+22=45

>>WK  5+19=24


all FG:    SG 35%, WK 31%

2-pt FG: SG 50%, WK 44%

3-pt FG:SG 17% (4-23), WK 9% (1-11)

Free throws: SG 50% (5-10), WK 38% (5-13)

Rebounds: SG 29, WK 24

Turnovers: SG 14, WK 26

2nd Chance pts.: SG 17, WK 2

Fast break pts.: SG 8, WK 3

Perimeter pts.: SG 12, WK 3

Pts. in paint: SG 31, WK 21

Fouls: SG 14, WK 17


P-points, R-rebounds, A-assists, S-steals, B-blocked shots. Listed in order of jersey number. * starter

Boyd 2P, 3R; 

*Grinde5P, 5R, 4A, 4S; 

*Matzke 15P, 13R, 1A, 1S; 

*Folz 10P, 1R, 5A, 6S; 

*K. Bjerke 1A, 1B; 

Griffin 1R; 

*Elton 13P, 4R, 1A, 3S; 

Hagen 2R; 

also playing - Leahy, R. Bjerke, Michels; 

out injured- Murphy 


SoutheastConference2019BoysBasketball(through February 28 playoff games)  


Spring Grove* 14-0 SEC (20-4 season)                           

Kingsland 11-3 SEC (17-10 season)                 

Houston 5-9 SEC (13-14 season)            

Lanesboro 4-10 SEC (10-15 season)           

Mabel-Canton 4-10 SEC (8-19 season)                                                                                

*division champion  


Randolph* 14-1 SEC (24-2 season)                                

Grand Meadow 10-5 SEC (19-8 season)                        

Schaeffer Academy 7-8 SEC (13-14 season)              

LeRoy-Ostrander 5-9 SEC (11-15 season)                

Lyle/Pacelli 5-9 SEC (9-14 season)                                                 

Glenville-Emmons 0-15 SEC (0-23 season)  

*division champion      


Spring Grove Boys Basketball 

20-4 (14-0 SEC) -* 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

W vs. Grand Meadow (non-conf.) 50-48

W at Lanesboro* 74-39

Section 1A Tournament, #1 seed

W vs. #16 Wabasha-Kellogg


B-team Boys 10-10

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

L vs. Grand Meadow       34-46

L at Lanesboro               37-40


8th Grade Boys 14-1

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

W vs. Grand Meadow      39-18


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