FAIRMONT - Fairmont junior Mitch Pfingsten and Ellsworth junior Mitch Leuthold lit up the scoreboard for a combined 52 points during Monday night's nonconference basketball game in Fairmont.
Pfingsten and the Class 2A, No. 10-ranked Cardinals, however, prevailed by defeating the visiting Panthers, 75-55, at Cardinal Gym.
Pfingsten scored the first of his team-leading 25 points with a layup off of the opening tip before Leuthold responded on the other end with a 3-pointer for the first of his game-high 27 points.
CHALLENGING — Fairmont’s Ryan Noll (31) challenges a jumpshot by Ellsworth’s Justin Kruse (45) during non-league basketball action Monday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Nick Roggow (front) and Levi Becker (33), along with the Panthers’ D’Shaun Herman (41), look on. Photo by Leanna Becker
Pfingsten drove in for another layup on the ensuing possession, made it and was fouled, finishing the traditional 3-point play from the free throw line.
Leuthold again swished a shot from behind the 3-point arc to give the Panthers a 6-5 lead.
After a 3 from Ellworth's Tim Nolte tied the game at 11-11 with 13 minutes to play in the opening half, Fairmont took the lead and never gave it back.
"We wanted to start fast this game. The last few games we haven't been doing that and tonight I thought we did a good job of coming out, playing fast and grabbing control," said Fairmont head coach Jared Thompson.
A Pfingsten steal at halfcourt turned into a layup to give the Cardinals a 13-11 lead, before teammate Josh Eversman sank a jumpshot outside the lane and Nick Roggow followed it with a shot along the baseline to start the Cardinals on a 13-0 run.
"I thought we had good movement tonight. We did a good job of moving the ball in the offense, but also player movement and getting open," said Thompson.
It was the Panthers' Johnathon Kramer's 3 from the top of the key that stopped the Cardinals' scoring run, making it a 24-14 game with 9 minutes left in the opening half.
Eversman and Roggow came off the bench for Fairmont, making a combined 6 of 8 from the floor and two free throws, to help the Pfingsten-led offense build a 17-point halftime lead.
After his game-opening pair of 3s, the Cardinal defense held Leuthold to just one basket the rest of the half for eight points, before he tallied 19 points during the second half to lead the Panthers.
"Defensively, we had good player rotations tonight. We like to switch on screens, but couldn't with their height tonight. So there was a lot of good communication, and we held Leuthold to just 14 points until the end, so I'm happy about that," said Thompson.
After the Cardinal offense had built a 40-23 halftime advantage, Pfingsten came out and scored 10-straight points to give the Cardinals a 50-25 lead just 4:30 into the second half.
Fairmont's defense held the Panthers to just 21 of 50 shooting from the floor and also limited Ellsworth to just 19 boards in the game, with eight coming in the second half.
"We gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half. I thought we did a much better job of controlling that the second half," Thompson said in reference to his team's 25 rebounds - 12 of which occurred in the second half.
Eversman, who came in off the bench, made a perfect 4-for-4 in the first half to finish 7 of 10 from the floor for 14 points for the Cardinals. Eversman also pulled down a team-leading six boards.
Roggow and Jay Ruen each finished with eight points for Fairmont.
Fairmont (12-3, 4-0 South Central) hosts St. Peter in a 7:30 p.m. conference game on Thursday night at Cardinal Gym.
Ellsworth (5-9) hosts Adrian in a 6:15 p.m. game on Thursday night.
Ben Abel scored 13 points and made five steals to lead Fairmont to a 48-27 victory over Ellsworth during B-squad action on Monday in Fairmont.
Spencer Chirpich scored nine points, pulled down four rebounds and doled out four assists during the Cardinals' victory.
Kale Fritz added six points and grabbed five boards for the Cardinals.
Fairmont's B-squad (9-3) hosts St. Peter on Thursday.
Tyler Tennyson produced 17 points to lead the Fairmont C-squad to a 47-40 victory over Blue Earth Area on Thursday.
Chris Andrews netted six points, while Noah Quiring scored six and grabbed a team-leading 11 rebounds.
Anthony Shimon cleaned the glass for 10 rebounds, while Clayton Maakestad made three steals for the Cardinals.
Fairmont (7-4) hosts St. Peter on Thursday.
Martin County West 73, Cleveland 60 - Austin Krumwiede surpassed the 1,000-point career scoring milestone on the strength of a double-double effort of 15 points and 11 rebounds to help the Mavericks to a 73-60 Valley Conference victory over the Clippers on Monday night in Sherburn.
Jake Faber generated 16 points and seven boards for a Mavericks' offense that had four players in double figures.
Cordell Weber and Alex Biehn each tallied 10 points in the win.
Tyler Feitz scored 30 points to lead the Clippers, while Kyle Ziebarth added 11 points.
The Mavericks made 26 of 55 shots from the floor and went 16-for-22 from the charity stripe.
Martin County West (12-3, 7-1 Valley) travels to Alden-Conger for a 7:30 p.m. conference game on Thursday.
Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 74, Truman/Martin Luther 67 - Bryson Yackel scored 33 points to lead the Knights to a 74-67 victory over the BluejayKnights in a Valley Conference game on Monday in Truman.
Sam Geistfeld recorded a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds to go with five steals to lead the BluejayKnights' effort.
Cade Ekstrom scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and distributed six assists for TML, while teammate DaMarko Thomas netted six points and grabbed a team-leading 13 boards.
Michael Coates scored 13 points for LCWM, while Lucas Hesser grabbed 12 rebounds.
The BluejayKnights went 8-for-18 from the free throw line and made 25 of 62 shots from the floor.
The Knights shot 20-for-52 from the floor, and sank 15 of 20 from the charity stripe.
Truman/Martin Luther (8-7, 4-4 Valley) travels to East Chain for a 7:30 p.m. conference game against Granada-Huntley-East Chain on Thursday.
St. Peter 80, Blue Earth Area 53 - The Class 2A, No. 2-ranked Saints defeated the Bucs, 80-53, in a South Central Conference game on Monday night in St. Peter.
No individual stats were reported.
Blue Earth Area (5-6, 1-4 SCC) travels to Wells for a 7:30 p.m. game against United South Central tonight.
St. Peter (13-1, 14-0 SCC) travels to Fairmont for a 7:30 p.m. conference game against the Class 2A, No. 10-ranked Cardinals on Thursday.