Mabel-Canton’s Noah Manning searches for an opening versus Spring Grove defenders Alex Engelhardt (#33) and Chase Grinde (#13). Jon Speltz/News-Record
Mabel-Canton’s Noah Manning searches for an opening versus Spring Grove defenders Alex Engelhardt (#33) and Chase Grinde (#13). Jon Speltz/News-Record
Last Tuesday's sub-section semi-finals pitted a pair of teams who know each other well - Mabel-Canton and Spring Grove - for a chance to take on the third-ranked team in state polling. In their third meeting of the season, Spring Grove defeated Mabel-Canton, 62-46.

Earlier in the month, the Lions had scored 27 fast-break points in a runaway win at Mabel. But in the rematch, the Cougars kept it a half-court game with each team managing only six transition points.

During that Feb. 7 game, Spring Grove had out-rebounded the Cougars by 15. But on Saturday, M-C became only the third team in 28 games to out-board the Lions, 30 to 29.

Both teams did not shoot as well as they had in their two previous meetings. Spring Grove came in hitting 42 percent from the field for the season, but shot only 37 percent in Rochester. M-C netted only 35 percent and was again outscored by Spring Grove from the foul line, 19-10.

"Spring Grove really set the tempo and forced us to play their style of game," said Mabel-Canton coach Doug Wyffels. "They played with a lot of energy and executed well."

Both teams had to work hard to get shots.

Spring Grove coach Wade Grinde said his Lions could not get into a rhythm on offense, at least in part due to the hustling M-C defense. He praised the Cougars for "playing with heart."

On the other end of the court, M-C improved their ball handling against Spring Grove's trapping defensive pressure, but still gave up 24 turnovers to 15 for the Lions.

The Cougars never led but twice sliced eight- and seven-point deficits down to one before SG closed the first half on a 16-5 run.

The Lions opened the game with a pair of Dustin Vickerman three-point baskets. Spring Grove's other three treys came during a critical late first half run - a third from Vickerman following two from Chase Grinde.

M-C opened the second half with a Keyser Wenthold triple, but that would be the final three-pointer of the game for either team. The Cougars went zero for 12 and SG zero for five from beyond the arc the rest of the way.

The closest M-C got during the second half was seven points (42-35), but SG scored the next seven points and led by double-digit margins thereafter.

For M-C, the KFIL Co-Players of the Game were Hunter Johnson and Donnie Lind. Each scored 10 points. Noah Manning had six assists and Justin Ward three.

Johnson also contributed seven rebounds, with six each from Manning and Wenthold and five boards from Lind.

KFIL radio Game Ball winner Brady Schuttemeier scored nine of his 15 points in the second half and completed his seventh double double with 16 rebounds. Grinde, the KFIL Lion Player of the Game, also scored 15 points with Vickerman putting in 14 points along with six rebounds. Alex Engelhardt added nine points and three assists. He was joined by Dylan Kampschroer (two assists) and Gabe Solum (one) with more assists than turnovers.

Since Canton and Mabel consolidated in 1966, the Cougar and Lion boys have played 104 basketball games but only six times in postseason tournaments. SG leads overall, 65-39, and had won two of the three playoff games in the old district/region format. But since sub-section play began, M-C had won both playoff games - upsetting higher seed SG in 2005 and 2006.

M-C's season closed at 15-12, the Cougars' first winning record in seven seasons (16-9 in 2007). SG improved to 25-3, achieving 25 wins for only the second time in program history.

Sub-section 1A-East Boys Basketball 2014

#8 Schaeffer Academy 87, #9 Houston 73

#7 Wabasha-Kellogg 66, #10 Hope Lutheran 65

Sub-section Quarterfinals

#1 Rushford-Peterson 82, Schaeffer 33

#4 Lanesboro 77, #5 Kingsland 55

#2 Spring Grove 67, Wabasha-Kellogg 60

#6 Mabel-Canton 71, #3 Fillmore Central 56

Sub-section Semi-finals

Spring Grove 62, Mabel-Canton 46

Rushford-Peterson 79, Lanesboro 53

Sub-section Championship Finals

Rushford-Peterson 83, Spring Grove 65

Section 1A championship

Winner advances to state

March 6, Rochester 6:00 p.m.

Rushford-Peterson vs. Goodhue