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Repeat! Young Lions state champions again
By S. Lee Epps
, Freelance Reporter
Thursday, June 26, 2014 7:55 AM
In front from left with state championship medals are Drew Wyffels, Kyle Hagen, Takoda Boyd, Caleb Nerstad, Noah Elton and manager Reid Bjerke. In back are Corbin Moser, Ethan Matzke, coach Chris Strinmoen, Alex Folz and Kai Bjerke. Submitted photo
Several Spring Grove boys won a second straight Pacesetter State Basketball Championship. After winning the 2013 Sixth Grade Championship, these lads won the 2014 State Championship Seventh Grade Tournament on June 22 at St. Cloud.
As the Region One champion, Spring Grove was by far the smallest school among the eight region champs that convened to battle for the state crown.
The Minnesota champion and runner-up are now eligible to join teams from North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa in this weekend's Great Four-State Championship Tournament at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
The Lion lineup consisted of Kai Bjerke, Takoda Boyd, Corbin Moser, Noah Elton, Ethan Matzke, Alex Folz and Drew Wyffels along with sixth graders Kyle Hagen and Caleb Nerstad. Assisting Strinmoen on the bench was Blaine Storlie.
SG 31, Delano 14
Coach Chris Strinmoen credited great defense in the boys' runaway quarterfinal win. That fueled considerable fast-break scoring. The Lions led by 10 points at halftime.
Delano, located just west of the Twin Cities, is a Class AAA team with an enrollment of 794, roughly eight times that of Spring Grove.
SG 37, New London-Spicer 27
Another strong start had SG ahead 17-3 in the semi-final game. Then the offense stalled going scoreless for many minutes heading into halftime. NL-S trailed only 17-12 at the break.
The Lions stretched their advantage to double digits again on the way to a 10-point win
With an enrollment about four times greater than SG, New London-Spicer is a Class AA high school near Willmar southeast of St. Cloud.
SG 39, Perham 37
The Lions prevailed through an exciting back-and-forth second half. Trailing by one point, Perham sent SG point guard Alex Folz to the foul line with about 15 seconds left. Folz sank 1 of 2, and SG led 39-37. The Yellowjackets' last-second well-guarded 3-point attempt missed the mark.
SG had maintained a lead during the first half, but Perham would catch up and take a 3-point lead in the second half. The teams traded field goals down the stretch with Elton contributing to a late 3-point exchange.
The Lions inbounded the ball with a one-point lead and about a half-minute to play. Perham, unable to come up with a steal, was forced to foul Folz.
Perham, located near Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls, is a Class AA school with an enrollment of 398, roughly four times that of Spring Grove. The Yellowjackets had reached the last year's state semi-finals as sixth graders.
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