FAIRMONT - Fairmont's pregame goal was simple on Friday night - hold Waseca senior standout forward Katie Miller and the other Bluejay starters in check.
The Cardinals' player-to-player defense accomplished that task, limiting the future Bemidji State University cager to 11 points and the other four starters to just 15 points behind a combined 9-for-33 shooting performance in Fairmont.
Unfortunately for Fairmont, Katie Tlusty, Kirstin Simmons and Bailey Krueger came off the Waseca bench to pour in 24 points on 11-for-12 field-goal shooting.
BREAKING AWAY — Fairmont power forward Alex Christianson (right) dribbles past Waseca defender Caitlyn Hayford (11) during South Central Conference basketball action Friday night in Fairmont. Waseca’s Jordyn Hedberg (left) and referee Dave Gratz sprint upcourt on the play. Photo by Leanna Becker
The Bluejay reserves generated 25 total points to engineer a 51-34 South Central Conference basketball victory over the Cardinals.
"Their bench was phenomenal tonight. We did what we set out to accomplish - hold Miller under 15 (points), but their reserves came through for them," said Fairmont mentor Don Waletich, whose lineup produced a 38-22 rebounding edge over Waseca.
Sophomore power forward Alex Christianson, who shared game-high rebounding honors with junior teammate Kayla Lardy by garnering 10 caroms each, played a key role in triggering the Cardinals' early 7-2 lead.
Christianson, who neared double-double territory by netting a team-best nine points, spotted Sierra Schrader for a 10-foot leaner in the lane before Christianson tossed in a turnaround low-post jumper off a feed from Kristen Campe for a 4-2 edge.
Sierra Schultz then distributed one of her game-high five assists to Lardy in the paint for two more points before Christianson added a solo free throw.
Unfortunately for the hometown Cardinals, Tlusty warmed up the Fairmont gymnasium nets sandwiched around Simmons' basket to trigger the Bluejays' pivotal 12-0 run at the 13-minute mark.
After sophomore forward Mikayla Rolling went end-to-end following a steal for two of her co-game-high 11 points, the sharpshooting Tlusty swooshed a baseline jumper before Simmons converted Miller's assist into a runner in traffic.
Tlusty, who made 5 of 6 field goals for 10 points, banked home a breakaway lay-in before Rolling sank the back end of a two-shot foul. Krueger then drained the first of her two 3-pointers on the game to cap a 14-7 lead.
Lardy's solo charity toss finally ended Fairmont's scoring drought nearly seven and a half minutes later before Schultz hit a putback basket.
Tlusty delivered a baseline leaner with only 40 seconds remaining before halftime to help swing an 11-point lead to Waseca.
Campe and Schultz then worked back-to-back thread-the-needle plays, with Campe catching Schultz's entry pass and banking home a pair of 12-footers to open the second half.
Christianson and Lardy later worked a high-low post play, with Christianson hitting the basket to inch Fairmont within 29-24 with 13 minutes remaining in regulation.
Once again, the Bluejays' torrid-shooting trio of Tlusty, Simmons and Krueger each hit shots to swing the momentum back to the visitors for good.
Tlusty floated home a runner in traffic, Simmons tossed in a low-post turnaround and Krueger buried another 3 to re-establish a 12-point lead at the 10:48 juncture.
Miller and Rolling each delivered four points down the stretch to cap the Bluejays' 17-point margin of victory.
Campe netted eight points for the Cardinals, while Schultz scored six to complement her five assists.
Simmons scored eight points on 4-for-4 shooting, while Krueger was 2-for-2 from behind the arc for six points.
Fairmont (0-2, 0-1 SCC) travels to Albert Lea today for a 2:30 p.m. nonconference game.
Waseca (3-1, 1-0) hits the road to Kasson on Monday to face Kasson-Mantorville.
Cassidy Krusemark and Courtney Mosloski each neared double-double territory to help power Fairmont to a 30-23 victory over Waseca during B-squad action Friday night in Fairmont.
Krusemark scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Mosloski netted eight points and 11 boards.
Sophie Shelgren scored six points for the Cardinals, while Haley Harder made four steals.
The Fairmont B-squad (1-1) travels to Albert Lea today.
Waseca edged Fairmont in C-squad action, 19-15, Friday night in Fairmont.
Blue Earth Area 47, New Ulm 26 - Forward Krista Hassing produced 12 points, six rebounds, four blocked shots and four steals to guide the Bucs to a 47-26 triumph over the Eagles during South Central Conference action Friday night in New Ulm.
Janessa Jahnke, Jenna Stevermer and Whitney Pirsig each scored seven points for Blue Earth Area, with Jahnke and Stevermer garnering five and four rebounds, respectively.
The Bucs, who outrebounded the Eagles by a 37-25 margin, stepped to the free throw line an incredible 46 times, making 19. The Bucs also hit 14 of 59 shots from the field.
Blue Earth Area (2-0, 1-0 SCC) travels to Le Sueur-Henderson on Tuesday night.
B.E. Area 21-26-47
New Ulm 10-16-26
Martin County West 48, St. Clair 47 - The Mavericks stampeded back from a 13-point second-half deficit to edge the Cyclones, 48-47, during Valley Conference action Friday night in St. Clair.
Martin County West captured the lead with 45 seconds remaining in regulation and held off St. Clair down the stretch.
Taryn Tumbleson collected a game-high 19 points to complement nine rebounds and three assists to top the Mavericks' winning ways.
Madyson Larson also pulled down nine rebounds for MCW, Kate Thiesse scored eight points, while Libbie Lange distributed three assists.
Kelsey Linnell scored 18 points to top St. Clair, while teammate Katelyn Weber chipped in 11 points.
Martin County West (2-0, 1-0 Valley) plays host to Granada-Huntley-East Chain at 6 p.m. tonight in Trimont in the first game of a varsity doubleheader.
MC West 16-32-48
St. Clair 23-24-47
Granada-Huntley-East Chain 62, Madelia 25 - Amanda Cegelske scored a game-best 17 points to go with four assists to steer the Mustangs to a 62-25 rout over the Blackhawks during Valley Conference action Friday night at East Chain School.
Rachel Shumski supplied 12 points and seven rebounds to GHEC's winning ways, while Anna Balcom and Mariah Jensen each scored nine points.
Jensen also doled out four of the Mustangs' 17 assists.
GHEC made 21 of 58 shots from the field and 11 of 20 at the free throw line.
Abby Eldridge netted eight points to top Madelia, while Carina Aguilar tallied seven.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (1-1, 1-0 Valley) travels to Trimont tonight for a 6 p.m. game with Martin County West.
Alden-Conger 65, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 36 - Taylor Martin neared double-double territory by scoring 17 points and grabbing nine boards to engineer the hometown Knights to a 29-point Valley Conference victory on Friday night in Alden.
Liesel Theusch collected 13 points and garnered five rebounds for Alden-Conger, while Ariel Keller contributed 10 points and eight rebounds.
Alden-Conger (1-0, 1-0 Valley) travels to Madelia on Tuesday night for another conference game.