Lion boys surge late to deny Kingsland, Mabel-Canton

LEFT: Kyle Hagen (at left) and Mabel-Canton's Dylan Loppnow chase after an airborne rebound. ABOVE RIGHT: Caden Grinde (at left) and leaping Alex Folz halt progress of Braden Gjere during action at Mabel-Canton. LOWER RIGHT: Ethan Matzke scores at Mabel-Canton while defended by Ethan Underbakke. Photos by S. Lee Epps
By : 
Lee Epps

The conference winning streak was in considerable peril last week as the Spring Grove boys prevailed late in both SEC road trips. The Lions rallied from six points down in the second half to escape Spring Valley on Dec. 17 in the first league encounter with Kingsland, 62-59.  

The next night at Mabel-Canton, there were 11 lead changes before the Lions pulled away in the final six minutes of a 51-38win.

"I was happy with our guys for hanging in there and finding a way to be successful," said coach Wade Grinde. "Right now we are in need of some quality practices with our full team, so we can develop an identity on offense and defense."

With this 64th consecutive conference victory, SG (4-1, 4-0) left with an early two-game lead (in the loss column) over both the Knights (2-4, 2-2 SEC) and the Cougars (2-4, 1-2 SEC) in the East Division race.

SG 62, Kingsland 59

Wyatt Pruter's potentially game-tying 3-point shot bounced on the rim twice before bouncing away as time expired. That came after his trey attempt found the net but was disallowed as his coach was calling time out. 

That came just after he had missed the second of two free throws that would have tied the score with 13 seconds remaining. Then Alex Folz went to the foul line on the other end to drop in both free throws to extend the Lion lead to 62-59 with just seven seconds to play.

Folz thus finished with 21 points and a career-best 11 rebounds while Ethan Matzke had an 18-point, 10-rebound double double. Noah Elton put in 10 points and rebounded 7 times.

Coming off a 25-point performance against Lanesboro, Pruter closed with 23 points while  Reid Kruegel added 16 and Lucas Howard 15.

It was do or die from 3-point land for the home team which launched 34 shots beyond the arc (11 for 34, 32%), compared to 25 attempts closer in.  

 It has been four years since a Lion opponent had aired more than 34 shots from 3-point range. The first three baskets of the game were all triples - one each from Pruter, Folz and Elton.

SG put up 19 trey attempts (7 for 19, 37%) as both teams shot 38% from the field. But the Lions had a five-point edge at the foul line in a three-point victory. SG (11 for 13) earned five more free throws and hit five more than did the home team (6 for 8).

Late-game drama was not expected as SG led by nine (25-16) in the first half. But four Kingsland 3-balls closed the gap, and the Lions led only 34-31 at the halftime break.

A 12-point run gave Kingsland a 43-37 lead early in the second half. The Knights would still be up by six (58-52) before adding only a free throw during their final eight possessions.

A Matzke post basket broke a 58-58 tie with 2:08 to play. Then despite two late turnovers, the Lions held on to win their first conference contest against SEC newcomer Kingsland. It was only their sixth meeting all time with Spring Grove winning five.

The Lion B-team came from 10 points down in the first half to win 43-40. The eighth grade game went to SG 40-17 as did the seventh grade contest 49-21.

Varsity numbers



All FG: SG 38% (22-58), KHS 38% (21-55) 

2-pt. FG: SG 38% (15-39), KHS 48% (10-21) 

3-pt. FG: SG 37% (7-19), KHS 32% (11-34) 

free throws: SG 85% (11-13), KHS 75% (6-8)

Rebounds: SG 35, KHS 25

Turnovers: SG 15, KHS 11

Fouls: SG 14, KHS 12


Boyd 5P, 1R, 1A, 2S

Grinde 6P, 2R, 1A

Matzke 18P, 10R, 3A, 1S

Folz 21P, 11R, 3A, 2S

Bjerke 2P, 2R, 2A

Elton 10P, 7R, 2A, 1S

Hagen 2R, 1S

Also playing - Murphy


SG 51, M-C 38

A seven-point run wiped away the last Cougar lead (32-31) and put Spring Grove ahead to stay (38-32) with six minutes remaining. On the other end of the court, the Lions were forcing eight straight Mabel-Canton turnovers during that game-changing sequence.

SG was then able to pull the Cougars out of their effective zone defense and get some easier baskets to create a somewhat misleading final 13-point spread.

For the visitors, Folz scored 24 points while Elton added 11. 

In early foul trouble, Matzke played only the first four and half minutes of the first half but came back for 5 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists.

For the Cougars, 6-foot-3 center Dylan Loppnow had 11 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

The Lions scored the first five points of the game, but M-C scored the next 13. SG came back with four Folz 3-pointers as the first half ended with four lead changes.

Parker Ingvalson drilled a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer to send the Cougars into intermission with a 22-21 lead.

The second half was back-and-forth on the scoreboard until the late Spring Grove 7-point spurt.

Both teams shot 41% from 2-point range and sank six free throws (SG 6 for 10, M-C 6 for 13). But the Lions went 7 for 23 with 3-point shots, while the home team languished at 2 for 11.

The Cougars forged a slim 30-to-27 rebounding advantage but lost ground with 28 turnovers, 10 more than Spring Grove.

The Lions extended their winning streak against M-C to to 18 games.

Spring Grove had an easier time in a 49-29 B-team win. The Lions prevailed in both junior games, including a 50-9 eighth grade result and a 44-8 seventh grade win.

This week and next 

It will be a matchup of both defending division champions when Randolph comes to Spring Grove on Thursday, Jan. 27. The Rockets were undefeated at 5-0 (3-0 SEC) going into a West Division showdown with Grand Meadow as this edition of the Herald was going to press on Dec. 21.

The Lion boys open the new year with a Friday, Jan. 4, trip west to Lyle/Pacelli (at Lyle), closely followed by a Saturday, Jan. 5, bus ride north to Class AA Cannon Falls (4:30 p.m.).

Varsity numbers



All FG: SG 37% (19-52), MC 35% (15-43) 

2-pt. FG: SG 41% (12-29), MC 41% (13-32)

3-pt. FG: SG 30% (7-23), MC 18% (2-11)

free throws: SG 60% (6-10), MC 46% (6-13)

Rebounds: SG 27, MC 30

Turnovers: SG 18, MC 28

Fouls: SG 15, MC 14


Boyd 2A, 1S

Grinde 7P, 1R, 3A, 5S, 1B

Matzke 5P, 7R, 3A, 5S

Folz 24P, 6R, 6A, 1S

Bjerke 4P, 3R, 2A

Elton 11P, 6R, 1A, 2S

Hagen 4R, 1S



Southeast Conference Boys(updated since print edition with Dec. 21 scores)


Spring Grove 4-0 SEC (4-1 season)

Kingsland 3-2 (3-4)

Mabel-Canton 1-2 (2-4)

Houston 1-4 (2-4)

Lanesboro 0-4 (2-6)


Randolph 4-0 (6-0)

Grand Meadow 4-1 SEC (7-2 season)

LeRoy-Ostrander 3-2 (4-3)

Lyle/Pacelli 3-3 (3-4)

Schaeffer Academy 2-3 (5-6)

Glenville-Emmons 0-4 (0-6)


Spring Grove Boys Basketball 

4-1 (4-0 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 at Kingsland*62-59

W at Mabel-Canton*51-38

12-27 Randolph*

01-04 at Lyle/Pacelli* (Lyle)

01-05 at Cannon Falls 4:30 p.m.

01-08 at La Crescent-Hokah

01-10 Lanesboro*

01-14 Decorah

01-15 Kingsland*

01-24 at Houston*

01-26 vs. LeRoy-Ostrander 1 p.m. (at Target Center, Minneapolis)

01-28 Waukon

01-29 at Grand Meadow*

02-01 Mabel-Canton*


02-08at Mayer Lutheran 7:30 p.m.

02-09at Christ’s Household of Faith (St. Paul 1 p.m.)

02-12Schaeffer Academy

02-14at Fillmore Central (Preston) 7:30

02-19Grand Meadow (non-conf.)

02-22at Lanesboro*