FAIRMONT - Mitch Pfingsten guaranteed his memory of reaching the 1,000-point career scoring mark would not be a bittersweet one.
Fairmont's sharpshooting junior guard nailed what proved to be the game-winning 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining in regulation to help the Cardinals eclipse the Waseca Bluejays, 58-56, during South Central Conference basketball action Thursday night in Fairmont.
Trailing 56-55 with 11 seconds showing on the Cardinal Gym scoreboard, Pfingsten took the sideline inbound pass and hoisted a 25 foot-plus trifecta from beyond the top of the key. Fairmont's man-to-man defense limited Waseca to an off-the-mark, off-balanced 3-pointer at the buzzer to prevail.
QUICK RELEASE — Fairmont guard Mitch Pfingsten (3) releases a jumpshot over Waseca center Jake Busse (44) during South Central Conference basketball action Thursday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Waseca’s Thomas O’Neil (10) and Brock Kolander (22) look on. Photo by Leanna Becker
"The last three times we've played have been decided by a total of six points," Fairmont mentor Jared Thompson said in reference to the two SCC rivals' down-to-the-wire showdowns. " ... I was proud of the fact that our guys didn't panic even when we trailed by three (56-53) with a minute and a half left in the game."
Jay Ruen, who connected on three clutch consecutive 3-pointers during the second half en route to 16 points, delivered the Cardinals' first pivotal play down the home stretch.
Ruen swiped the Bluejays' sideline inbound pass, drew a foul and calmly swooshed both ends of a one-and-one situation to whittle Fairmont's deficit to 56-55 at the 1:03 juncture.
The Cardinals fouled 13 seconds later to put the Bluejays at the charity stripe and the strategy paid a dividend in a missed front end of a one-and-one situation.
Fairmont could not convert at the offensive end and was forced to foul again with 15 ticks to go. Waseca again missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Cardinal forward Bryce Holm garnered the key carom.
Fairmont then called timeout four seconds later before Pfingsten connected for the game-winning trey off the inbound play.
"They (Ryan Noll and Bryce Holm) set a brick-wall screen to free me up for that last shot," said Pfingsten, who became just the fourth Fairmont boys basketball player to clear the 1,000-point plateau, joining former Cardinal standouts Eric Hugoson (1,481), Jeff Janssen (1,427) and Bob Winzenburg (1,271).
"It (1,000 points) was in the back of my head a little tonight," said Pfingsten, who finished with a game-high 19 points on the heels of needing 12 to reach the prep milestone. "I just have to thank all of my teammates throughout the years for helping me achieve this by helping me get open and put me in good spots to score."
Trailing 24-22 with time winding down in the opening half, Levi Becker did exactly that by spotting Pfingsten for a 3 to trigger the Cardinals' 9-2 run just before intermission.
Pfingsten drilled a trey from the left wing off of one of Levi Becker's game-high five assists before Waseca forward Josh Kummerfeldt answered with a runner in traffic for two of his team-best 18 points with 2:30 left before halftime.
Pfingsten then posted up for a turnaround basket in the paint before spotting Ruen for a right baseline jumper to draw the Cardinals even at 26-all with 1:30 remaining.
Levi Becker then penetrated to draw the Bluejay defense and spotted Holm for a 10-footer in the lane to swing a two-point lead to Fairmont with 33 seconds to go in the first half.
Josh Eversman then came off the Cardinals' bench to serve as the hometown lineup's second-half offensive and rebounding catalyst. Eversman scored all seven of his points and grabbed half of his six boards during the final 16 minutes.
Eversman's 3, combined with Ruen's trio of triples, kept Fairmont within striking distance during a second half that featured three ties and six lead changes.
Thomas O'Neil netted a double-double performance of 13 points and a game-best 12 rebounds to complement four assists for the Bluejays.
Fairmont (9-3, 3-0 SCC) plays host to Jackson County Central at 7:30 p.m. Monday night.
Waseca (6-8, 3-2) plays host to St. James on Friday, Jan. 18.
Cole Emler scored 12 points to help guide Fairmont to a 44-35 victory over Waseca during B-squad action Thursday in Fairmont.
Ben Abel generated nine points and seven rebounds for the Cardinals, while Derek Hunwardsen scored eight points.
Spencer Chirpich contributed seven points, four steals and four assists to Fairmont's winning ways, while Parker Monsen chipped in four steals.
Tyler Tennyson produced 22 points, five rebounds and five steals to power Fairmont to a 46-37 triumph over Waseca during C-squad action Thursday in Fairmont.
Anthony Shimon contributed seven points and a pivotal steal during the late stages of the game to help seal the Cardinals' win.
NOTES: Wyatt Kramer-Olson and Caden Baarts were honored as the Fairmont fifth-grade traveling hoopsters of the week at halftime. ... Junior forward Zach Brown celebrated his 17th birthday during Thursday night's game.
Manson-Northwest Webster 68, North Union 43 - The Cougars held the Warriors to just 21 points in the first half and 22 more in the second to take the 68-43 nonconference victory on Thursday night in Armstrong.
Shane Mills led the Warriors' effort, tallying 11 points and grabbing six rebounds. Colton McConnell also scored in the double digits, garnering 10 points to go along with three assists and two steals.
Aric Runge and Jacob Braddock each scored seven points for the Warriors.
North Union (2-12, 2-3 Corn Belt Conference) travels to East Chain on Tuesday for a 7:45 p.m. nonconference game against Granada-Huntley-East Chain.
Waseca 53, Fairmont 52 (2 OT) - Katie Miller delivered the decisive basket in double overtime to help the Bluejays slip past the Cardinals, 53-52, during South Central Conference action Thursday night in Waseca.
Miller finished with a game-leading 24 points to top Waseca (10-4, 5-0 SCC).
Madison Geerdes connected on a 3-pointer with 3 seconds remaining in regulation to help Fairmont force the first overtime.
Alex Christianson delivered 20 points to top the Cardinals' scoring attack, while teammate Kayla Lardy produced a double-double performance of 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Kristen Campe scored eight points for Fairmont, Tracy Thiesse delivered six points and six rebounds, Sierra Schultz collected five points and eight boards, while Geerdes added four rebounds and three steals to her three points.
The Cardinals made 19 of 48 shots from 2-point range, 4 of 11 from 3-point distance and only 2 of 10 at the free throw line.
Fairmont (2-9, 1-3 SCC) plays host to Jackson County Central at 6 p.m. Monday night at Cardinal Gym.
Waseca hits the road to Faribault on Saturday.
Courtney Mosloski netted five points, 10 rebounds and seven steals to help steer Fairmont to a 30-25 victory over Waseca during B-squad action Thursday in Waseca.
Cassidy Krusemark scored nine points to top the Cardinals, while Haley Harder contributed eight points to the win.
Martin County West 52, Granada-Huntley-East Chain 38 - Kate Thiesse and Whitney Smith each produced 10-point performances to lead the Mavericks to a 52-38 Valley Conference victory over the Mustangs on Thursday in Trimont.
Thiesse also grabbed seven rebounds and made three steals, while Taryn Tumbleson doled out four assists and made four steals.
Rachel Shumski scored 16 points in the second half and pulled down six rebounds to lead the Mustang efforts.
Anna Balcom came away with six rebounds and made three steals for GHEC, while Amanda Cegelske had three assists and to go along with her three steals.
MCW (10-2, 7-1 Valley) travels to Luverne for a 3 p.m. game Saturday. GHEC (5-6, 5-5 Valley) hosts North Union on Tuesday.
Blue Earth Area 48, New Ulm 28 - Krista Hassing and Kaitlyn Olsen combined for 27 points to lead the Bucs to a 48-28 SCC victory over the Eagles on Thursday in Blue Earth.
Hassing scored a game-high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds, while Olsen recorded 10 for the Bucs.
BEA's Chelsea Owen netted seven points and Taylor Grandgenett contributed four points along with four rebounds and five steals.
Blue Earth Area (8-3, 3-1 SCC) plays host to Fairmont in a 6 p.m. game on Friday, Jan. 18.
Martin Luther 54, Cleveland 46 - Catie Sherman scored 15 points, made five steals and pulled down four rebounds to lead the Knights to a 54-46 Valley Conference victory over the Clippers on Thursday in Northrop.
The Knights' Amber Schulz added 11 points, including sinking 3 of 4 free throws, and grabbed six rebounds in the win.
Effie Bentz went a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in an eight-point performance and made five steals for the Knights.
Hunter Payne grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and doled out four assists for Martin Luther.
Martin Luther (6-5, 4-3 Valley) hosts Truman in a 7:30 p.m. conference matchup on Monday.
Mankato Loyola 63, Truman 29 - Jordyn Strachan netted a game-high 19 points to propel the Crusaders to a 63-29 Valley Conference triumph over the Bluejays on Thursday night in Truman.
Brooke McDonald neared double-double territory with 11 points and nine rebounds for Truman.
Emily Zaharia delivered seven points and four steals to the Bluejays' effort, while Cleo Maloney chipped in six steals.
Truman (1-12, 1-7 Valley) travels to Cedar Mountain/ Morgan on Saturday.