Spring Grove basketball team looks to complete unfinished business at state tournament

The No. 3-seeded Spring Grove boys basketball team will face unseeded Mankato Loyola in the Class A state quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Williams Arena.

Goodhue, Spring Grove Section 1A Boys Basketball Championship
Spring Grove’s Caleb Griffen (3) drives toward the basket defended by Goodhue’s Justin Buck during the Section 1A boys basketball championship game on Thursday, March 16, 2023, at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Spring Grove will play in the Class A state quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — Spring Grove came oh-so-close to winning a state football championship last fall. Now the Lions’ boys basketball team will take its shot at winning a state championship.

The Lions placed second in the state in Class Nine-Man football. Nearly the entire basketball team played football and those same players helped Spring Grove win the Section 1A title and earn the No. 3 seed in this week's Class A state tournament.

Spring Grove (29-1) will take a 27-game winning streak into state quarterfinal play. The Lions will face unseeded Mankato Loyola (22-8) in the opening round at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Williams Arena.

"We haven’t been there for four years now so it feels good to get our name back out there,” junior guard Elijah Solum said. “We’ll try to put on a show for the fans and try to take it home at state.”

Solum was the quarterback for the Spring Grove football team in the fall. He is the team’s leading scorer in basketball.


“It’s going to be a new thing for us because none of us have been on that floor, but it should be fun,” he said.

The Lions and Mankato Loyola met in January with Spring Grove coming away with a 61-54 victory.

“It was a close game the whole way and we pulled away late so we’re expecting a good challenge,” Spring Grove coach Wade Grinde said.

Loyola is led by 6-foot-3 senior Simon Morgan and 6-2 guard Lawson Godfrey.

“They’re big and they’re strong, they’re a mature bunch of kids,” Grinde said. “They’re all pretty good size in that 6-3, 6-4 range.”

Loyola had some injuries earlier in the season, but it is healthy now.

“We lead with our defense so hopefully we can get out and put some pressure on them,” Grinde said. “They have some very good 3-point shooting so we’ll have to get out and cover the 3-point shot.”

The long and athletic Lions have excelled all season on defense. They have held opponents to an average of just 38.4 points per game, which is the best in all of Class A.


“Offensively, if we can turn some of our defense into offense, that will be key for us,” Grinde said.

Grinde said an important factor in making a strong tournament run will be a team getting contributions from its supporting cast. That could bode well for the Lions.

“When you get to this point and time, it’s about balance,” Grinde said. “And I think that’s been our strength down the stretch is we’ve had balance. We’re not dependent on one or two guys. The key is we have balance between our three, four, five and six players.”

Solum leads Spring Grove in scoring at 16.6 points per game followed by 6-3 senior guard Tysen Grinde (14.9), 6-5 junior Jaxon Strinmoen (12.9), 5-11 senior guard Caleb Griffin (7.1) and 6-1 junior Jacob Olerud (7.1).

“The stars have to be stars, but it’s usually the supporting cast that gets you over the top,” coach Grinde said.

New Life Academy (24-5) is the No. 2 seed and a possible foe for Spring Grove in the semifinals. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (28-1) is the No. 1 seed. Grinde said No. 5 Border West (26-2) is also playing well, while No. 4 Cherry features Isaac Asuma, a junior who has committed to play at the University of Minnesota.

“Honestly it’s about who gets hot at the right time,” Grinde said.

He said that seeding doesn’t always matter, recalling that his unseeded Spring Grove squad topped No. 1 Springfield in the state quarterfinals back in 2019.


Section 1A has been tough at the state tournament in recent years, including Hayfield having won back-to-back titles the past two seasons.

“If you make it out of Section 1, you’re in good shape come the state tournament so we’ll see how it goes,” Grinde said.



Wednesday, March 22

At Williams Arena

No. 1 Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (28-1) vs. Nevis (24-6), 11 a.m.

No. 4 Cherry (26-4) vs. No. 5 Border West (26-2), 1 p.m.

No. 2 New Life Academy (24-5) vs. Scared Heart (27-4), 3 p.m.


No. 3 Spring Grove (29-1) vs. Mankato Loyola (22-8), 5 p.m.


Friday, March 24

At Target Center

Russell-Tyler-Ruthton/Nevis winner vs. Cherry/Border West winner, 12 p.m.

New Life Academy/Scared Heart winner vs. Spring Grove/Mankato Loyola winner, 2 p.m.


Thursday, March 23


(At Concordia University)

Russell-Tyler-Ruthton/Nevis loser vs. Cherry/Border West loser, 10 a.m.

New Life Academy/Scared Heart loser vs. Spring Grove/Mankato Loyola loser, 12 p.m.


Friday, March 24

(At Concordia University)

Consolation semifinal winners, 8 a.m.



Saturday, March 25

At Target Center

Semifinal winners, 11 a.m.


Saturday, March 25

(At Concordia University)

Semifinal losers, 10 a.m.

Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or
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