Spring Grove BBB falls to New Life Academy 51-35 in Class A semifinal

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(ABC 6 News) — The #3 Spring Grove Lions saw their hopes at playing in the Class A Boys Basketball Championship dashed in a 51-35 loss to the #2 New Life Academy Eagles on Friday.

Jaxon Strinmoen led the Lions with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Caleb Griffin added 7 points and Tysen Grinde had 5 buckets.

NLA was on the board first as Colter Stone caught a long pass in transition for the score. The Lions later tied the game at 6-6 when Tysen Grinde angled himself in mid-air for a bucket over the 6’4″ Stone.

The Lions’ patented defense was present in the first half as noted by their scrappiness and forcing 12 turnovers against the Eagles. Caleb Griffin sunk a three to give Spring Grove a 9-6 lead at the 10:17 mark. However, NLA would go in front again, 13-12, off Austin Woolf’s bucket in the paint with 3:21 before halftime.

The Eagles’ transition offense was often too fast for the Lions to keep pace with even as Strinmoen continued to find his way to the net for Spring Grove.

Out of the break, both teams were tied 18-18, but the turning point for the Eagles was a 16-2 run that started at 12:37 in regulation. Shots for Spring Grove simply didn’t fall as the Eagles continued to rebound and score. Woolf, John Kirschling, Colton Hendricks and Maxwell Briggs all padded NLA’s lead before Strinmoen would break the drought with 7:47 left.

“Maybe we might’ve gotten a little worn down in that second half,” Lions head coach Wade Grinde discussed postgame. “And I think it affected us, affected our mental approach to what we were trying to do. And we kind of went off script and stopped trusting our execution. We got a little passive and we needed to be more aggressive and they took advantage of that.”

The junior would be the Lions’ only double-digit scorer as NLA advanced to the Class A Championship, 51-35. Overall, shooting proved to be difficult as Spring Grove was 16-57 (28.1%) compared to NLA’s 17-42 (40.5%).

“They just had us off,” Coach Grinde continued.” I mean, we missed open layups, open-court layups that we normally make. I think it’s because we maybe heard footsteps. We were overstriding instead of just fundamentally going up and making a layup. When that happens, it’s really difficult against a good team like that. We missed easy baskets and then they did contest us. They were long, they put their long defenders out on Tysen (Grinde) and Elijah (Solum) and that changed a lot of their shot opportunities and when we did catch for an open shot we just seemed like we weren’t shot-ready enough to let it fly. We lost maybe some of our confidence in our shooting ability.”

The Lions are not done in the Twin Cities just yet; they will play #4 Cherry for third place in Class A at 10 AM on Saturday morning. The matchup will be quite the get-right game as Ethan Crouch noted it’s all for the seniors going forward.

“We got one last run together as a group,” the junior forward said. “We’ve shown how well we play together in football, we’re just going to go out there and give it our best and leave everything out there because it’ll be our last game. Only 12 teams get to end the season on a win and we’re going to be one of those twelve.”

The impending contest will not be easy as the Lions are facing a future Golden Gopher in Cherry’s Isaac Asuma creating an intriguing irresistible force-immovable object matchup.

Nevertheless, the Lions are still in control of their narrative and finishing the story the right way tomorrow morning at 10 AM.

You can catch the semi-finals and finals on This TV 6.2, Roku, ABC 6 News Now app, or streaming live on kaaltv.com.