Thursday, February 29, 2024

Spring Grove edges Mankato Loyola in defensive battle to advance in Class 1A boys basketball

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Spring Grove held off a late rally by Mankato Loyola, winning 39-38 Wednesday in a defensive battle in the Class 1A boys basketball tournament quarterfinals at Williams Arena.

The third-seeded Lions (30-1) led by as many as 11 with 7:24 left. The Crusaders finished the game on a 15-5 run, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers by Quinn Kelly.

“We have all the confidence in the world when [Kelly] gets the ball, that ball is going in,” Crusaders coach Sam Carlson said. “He struggled a little bit here at the end of the year, but for him to show up [here] ice cold coming off the bench and making two huge ones both with a guy in his face. For him to come off the bench after not playing at all and make a couple threes and get a steal was huge for us.”

The Crusaders (22-9) had an opportunity to tie the score with 9.1 seconds left, but Lawson Godfrey made one of two free throws.

The Lions played a pressure zone defense that limited the Crusaders ability to get good looks for the majority of the game. The Crusaders patiently moved the ball around before a shot presented itself. The lack of possessions held the Lions to tie their lowest offensive output of the season.

“When we compact our defense, we’re all talking and running around, we work very well together,” Lions senior Elijah Solum said. “They can’t get into the paint. They’re always going to use a diagonal pass for the three. We try to shut that down a little bit.”

Solum led the Lions with 16 points. Godfrey and Jake Sizer led the Crusaders with nine points each.

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