MAPLETON - Maple River edged Fairmont by a mere four points during the Bethany Lutheran College holiday prep basketball tournament's championship game back on Dec. 29 in Mankato.
Since then, the Cardinals had reeled off 13 consecutive victories, including clutch decisions over Class 2A top 10-ranked programs St. Peter and Byron, to earn a share of the South Central Conference championship and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Section 3AA, South Sub-Section playoffs.
Unfortunately for No. 3-ranked Fairmont, No. 5-rated Maple River utilized a 28-for-42 free throw-shooting performance - including Jonah Breiter's incredible 13-for-14 effort at the line - and 77-percent shooting from 2-point range to outlast the visiting Cardinals in a high-scoring nonconference clash of basketball titans, 83-72, on Monday night in Mapleton.
LIFT-OFF — Fairmont guard Mitch Pfingsten (3) leaps around and over Maple River’s Jaron Denn (12) during nonconference basketball action Monday night in Mapleton. Maple River’s Zach Krengel (23) and Fairmont’s Levi Becker (33) watch the action. Photo by Leanna Becker
Breiter came off the hometown Eagles' bench to deliver 19 points to complement center Brian Doering's team-leading 21-point effort to offset Cardinal guard Mitch Pfingsten's game-leading 31-point effort.
Pfingsten erupted for 26 second-half points to help Fairmont outscore Maple River during the final 18 minutes by a 48-44 margin. Unfortunately, the Cardinals' second-half comeback bid could not overcome their 39-25 halftime deficit.
Josh Eversman and Justin Barnes came off Fairmont's bench to produce 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Jaron Denn netted 12 points for Maple River, while teammate Ben Larson finished with 10 points.
The Cardinals made 16 of 27 shots from 2-point range, 6 of 27 from behind the 3-point arc and 22 of 32 at the charity stripe.
The Eagles connected on 23 of 30 shots from 2-point distance for a staggering 77 percent to go with 3 of 15 shooting from 3-point range.
Fairmont (20-4, 9-0 South Central) travels to Class 2A, No. 4-ranked St. Peter on Thursday night. Maple River (22-4) awaits the results of the Section 2AA seeding on Wednesday.
M. River 39-44-83
Maple River edged Fairmont, 46-41, during B-squad action on Monday.
Spencer Chirpich collected 22 points and three steals to pace the Cardinals (16-5), Ben Abel tallied nine points and five rebounds, while Cole Emler chipped in seven points.
Noah Quiring generated 12 points and five rebounds to help guide Fairmont to a 33-26 victory over Maple River during C-squad action on Monday.
Tyler Tennyson netted 10 points and seven steals for the Cardinals, Chris Andrews supplied seven points and three steals, while Josh Liljenquist scored four.
St. James 67, Granada-Huntley-East Chain 60 - The Saints finished the regular season with a 67-60 nonconference victory over the Mustangs on Monday night in St. James.
Dylan Petrowiak topped GHEC with 16 points, six rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Ryan Shumski produced a double-double performance of 14 points and 13 rebounds to go with five blocks.
Josh Johanson scored 13 points and grabbed six boards for the Mustangs, while Konnor Kristenson recorded 11 points.
Trent Stensland pulled down 10 rebounds, while Jared Green doled out five assists for GHEC.
The Mustangs made 19 of 42 shots from inside the arc, sank 3 of 22 from downtown and were nearly perfect from the charity stripe by making 13 of 14.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (7-16) travels to St. Clair for a Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinal at 7 p.m. next Monday night.
Truman/Martin Luther 78, New Ulm Cathedral 63 - The BluejayKnights held the Greyhounds to just 18 first-half points to earn a 78-63 victory over the Greyhounds on Monday in New Ulm.
Alex Weihe and DaMarko Thomas led the way for the BluejayKnights by recording double-double performances of 19 points and 16 rebounds and 17 points and 10 rebounds, respectively.
Chandler Greier contributed 15 points and four rebounds, while teammate Cade Ekstrom netted 11 points, pulled down five boards and doled out seven assists.
Jake Stadick and Jeff Osborne led the Greyhounds by scoring 20 and 12 points, respectively.
The BluejayKnights shot 27 of 54 for 50 percent from the floor, while making 22 of 31 free throws.
The Greyhounds made 24 of 79 shots from the field, and went just 9-for-20 from the charity stripe.
Truman/Martin Luther (14-12) travels to Springfield for a 7 p.m. Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinal game next Monday night.