Boys basketball: This might be Spring Grove's year

Spring Grove has never been to the state tournament in boys basketball. The Lions would like to change that this year and appear to be in great position to do so as the Section One, Class A boys basketball tournament is set to begin.

Spring Grove and its star Chase Grinde are the favorites this time in the Section 1A playoffs. But traditional power Rushford-Peterson lurks again.

Spring Grove has never been to the state tournament in boys basketball. The Lions would like to change that this year and appear to be in great position to do so as the Section One, Class A boys basketball tournament is set to begin.

Play begins in the East and West Subsection with play-in games today. The quarterfinals are on Thursday. Spring Grove (25-1) is the No. 1 seed in the East Subsection and ranked second in the state in Class A.

"Let's take it one game at a time, but that's what we'd like to see happen," Spring Grove coach Wade Grinde said of earning a state berth.

The Lions have won 20-plus games for five straight years, but have never reach the subsection title game in that span. A huge presence has always been looming in the East — Rushford-Peterson. R-P is the defending Class A state champion after finishing second in the state in 2014. The Trojans have been the Section 1A champions, and gone to state, in 13 of the past 19 seasons.

"They're the reigning state champs so I think everyone has to get past them," Grinde said.


R-P is the No. 2 seed in the East this year. Goodhue is the No. 1 seed in the West and Grand Meadow is No. 2.

Grinde is hoping that a deep and talented team takes the Lions over the top in his 21st season as head coach. Spring Grove has four solid seniors in Alex Engelhardt, Brady Schuttemeier, Gabe Solum and Dylan Kampschroer. And the Lions are led by high-scoring junior Chase Grinde, Wade's son.

"We have to play our game and our tempo and all of our players have to play to their level and know their role," coach Grinde said. He said the Lions want to play an up-tempo game with a lot of crisp ball movement.

The Lions have three 1,000-point career scorers in Grinde (1,764), Engelhardt (1,380) and Schuttemeier (1,287), and all three of those players are 6-foot-3.

"We have length, but not size," coach Grinde said.

Here is a look at the top seeds in the Section 1A tournament.


No. 1 Spring Grove (25-1)has dominated teams throughout the season. The Lions are averaging 74.7 points a game and allowing a mere 39.1.


The Lions enter tourney play on a 14-game winning streak. The team's lone loss was 56-45 to Class AA Perham on Dec. 29.

Junior Chase Grinde averages 22.2 points a game. The Lions also have strong overall balance as seniors Brady Schuttemeier and Alex Engelhardt chip in 12.1 and 9.7 a game and Alex Folz and Brock Schuttemeier are right about 8.0 points a game.

Spring Valley went 22-0 in games against Section 1A foes.

No. 2 Rushford-Peterson (18-8)has been very good this season, just not as dominating as in the past two years. R-P has the No. 4 QRF rating in all of Class A, and is ranked sixth in the Top 10 poll, but might have to pull off an upset to make it out of the subsection.

A likely showdown against Spring Grove looms in the subsection title game. R-P lost to Spring Grove 54-39 less than two weeks ago. Trojans coach Tom Vix enters the tournament with a 638-220 career record and three state championships under his belt.

Whether R-P can make a strong postseason run remains to be seen, but the Trojans have a way of stepping up with 13 section titles in 19 years.

Husky Matt Culhane, a 6-8 center, leads the team with a 12.6 scoring average and lightning-quick guard Noah Carlson chips in 10.8 ppg. Luke Rasmussen (8.7 ppg) and Caleb Thompson (7.3 ppg) also are scoring threats. R-P does play a stronger overall schedule than Spring Grove and was 6-1 against section foes, but the Trojans have struggled to score at times and average 54.7 points a game.

No. 3 Houston (21-4)joins Spring Grove as the only 20-win teams in the East Subsection. The Hurricanes enter the postseason on a five-game winning streak and have outscored foes on a average of 69.1-52.9 a game.


If the Hurricanes win their opener, they would likely face R-P in the subsection semifinals. Those two teams did not play during the regular season. Houston suffered a pair of losses to Spring Grove during Southeast Conference play, 52-37 and 75-45.

Houston can put up a lot of points and has a trio of players averaging in double figures in Austin Peplinski (18.8 ppg), Micah Schutte (14.3) and Trevor Lundberg (12.7). Rounding out some nice scoring depth are James Loken (8.9) and Jeremiah Johnson (7.8), but the Hurricanes are thin after that. The team did go 20-2 against section foes other than Spring Grove.

No. 4 Wabasha-Kellogg (14-12)is the only other subsection team with a winning record and the Falcons were 10-3 against other teams in the section. W-K faces No. 5 Fillmore Central (8-18)in the first round. The teams met once in the regular season and W-K posted a slim 49-48 win in Wabasha back on Jan. 5. Fillmore did have a three-game losing streak to end the regular season.

W-K outscored foes by an average of four points a game while Fillmore Central was outscored by an average of eight points a game. W-K features the team's all-time scoring leader in Ryan Wolfe. The senior, who averages 16.4 points a game, is also the school's all-time leader in assists and steals.

Jackson Gosse (14.6 ppg) and Zach Kjeseth (10.3) also average in double figures while Marcus Meyer averages 7.9 an outing.

Trace Tollefson leads Fillmore Central in scoring (13.6), followed by Sam Rustad (8.3), Alex Lange (7.2) and Drew Tienter (7.2).


Goodhue (18-9) has won the West Subsection the past two seasons. Each time the Wildcats have been denied a section title with a loss to R-P in the championship game.


Goodhue coach Matt Halverson, who played his high school ball at Rushford-Peterson, looks to get the Wildcats back in position to win the section crown this year. The Wildcats were the HVL Blue Division champions and lost to Lake City, the Gold Division winner, in the title game.

The Wildcats were 7-2 against section foes and stingy on defense, outscoring foes on an average of 51.0-42.5. The offense relies on balance and does not have a single player averaging in double figures. Jacob McNamara leads the way with 9.0 ppg followed by Jacob Pasch (8.6), Ryan Alpers (7.9) and Ben Opsahl (7.0).

Eight of the team's nine losses have come against teams in Class AA or AAA. The lone loss to a Class A team was a narrow 44-43 setback to R-P on Dec. 11.

No. 2 Grand Meadow (20-5)is the lone 20-win team in the West Subsection, but does not face as tough as competition as Goodhue. In fact Goodhue defeated the Superlarks 50-31 in Grand Meadow back on Dec. 31.

Grand Meadow played all but one of its games against section foes and it was 19-5 in those contests. The Superlarks suffered 78-36 and 63-47 losses to Spring Grove during SEC play. The second loss came late on Feb. 11. Grand Meadow also lost 50-36 to Southland, a potential foe in the subsection semifinals.

The Superlarks feature a number of athletic players who were on the Nine-Man state championship football team. Michael Stejskal is the top scorer and Terrell Rieken and Wes Ojulu are other scoring threats.

No. 3 Southland (10-12)earns a high seed despite a losing record. The Rebels earned a high seed for playing stronger competition in the Three Rivers Conference than some of the other SEC teams. But only three teams seeded below the Rebels have records above .500.

The Rebels were 6-4 against section foes. Two of those were back-to-back losses to section powers Goodhue and R-P, but both were decent games. Goodhue pulled out a slim 53-52 win and then R-P won 65-52. Five of the Rebels' losses have been by three points or less.


Southland has nice balance with three players averaging in double figures. Josh Anderson leads the way with 14.0 ppg, followed by James Landherr (12.2), Jared Landherr (11.2) and Chris Webber (7.1).

The Rebels could play their way into the subsection title game as they beat No. 2 Grand Meadow 50-36 during the regular season.

No. 4 Lyle/Pacelli (14-10)has an interesting game right off the bat in subsection play with a meeting against No. 5 Randolph (14-11)in the quarterfinals. Both teams come in over .500 and L/P got the higher seed even though Randolph has a higher QRF rating.

The teams split during the regular season. Playing at home could be a big factor for L/P as it beat Randolph 68-57 in Lyle and lost 68-43 on the road. If L/P can survive, a likely meeting with Goodhue awaits. The Athletics lost 57-44 to Goodhue during the season.

L/P has two excellent scorers in Noah Jiskra (19.9 ppg) and Braden Kocer (16.9), while Jordan Cotter chips in 10.0 a game. The Rockets counter with high-scoring Grante Otte (18.4 ppg), while Eric Otte (12.7) and David Speight (12.4) also average in double figures.

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