FAIRMONT - Jared Thompson does not raise his voice very often, but the Fairmont head coach definitely got his hoopsters' attention during a timeout with 3:37 remaining in the first half of Monday night's game.
"Three straight trips, we did a poor job of defending, and I had to do something," Thompson said in reference to United South Central's late 12-3 run that snapped a 24-all tie just minutes before intermission.
The Cardinals heeded Thompson's advice coming out of the lockerroom to eventually erase an eight-point halftime deficit to the hard-working Rebels in Fairmont.
LOW-POST DEFENSE — Fairmont’s Ben Abel defends against United South Central forward Riley Kloos’ low-post leaner during basketball action Monday night at Cardinal Gym. Fairmont’s Nate Johnson (middle) boxes out USC’s Cody Nelson as Cardinal teammates Mitch?Pfingsten (3), Jay Ruen (35) and Josh Eversman, along with USC’s Steve Voigt (front right), watch the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Mitch Pfingsten delivered 17 of his game-high 22 points and five of his game-best seven assists during the final 18 minutes of regulation to pace Class 2A, No. 3-ranked Fairmont's 67-63 comeback victory over USC at Cardinal Gym.
"You could call that a tale of two halves," said Thompson, whose lineup used a 9-for-10 free throw-shooting effort to outscore the Rebels 37-25 during the second segment.
Forward Riley Kloos provided a necessary spark off USC's bench during the first half, generating 11 of his 16 points to build a 38-30 edge at the break.
Luke Trio, who topped the Rebels' cause with 17 points to complement seven boards, later drained the first of his three 3s before post player Steve Voigt distributed one of his six assists to center Cody Nelson for a low-post lay-in to extend the visitors' edge to 45-34 at the 15:15 juncture of the second half.
Fairmont forward Jay Ruen, however, drilled a 3-pointer to trigger the home team's ensuing 15-2 offensive avalanche.
"Our defensive stops created open looks for us at the offensive end and that run got us back into the game," said Thompson.
Luke Peterson intercepted a USC pass and later spotted Josh Eversman for a left-elbow jumper for two of his 20 points on the game before Pfingsten swooshed a pull-up trey to inch the Cardinals within 45-42 with 12:47 remaining in the second half.
Eversman, who generated 14 of Fairmont's 30 first-half points, garnered a right-wing steal before earning two free throws before Voigt countered with a putback basket for USC.
Pfingsten, however, displayed his deft passing touch by firing a skip pass to Ruen for a right-corner 3 before threading the needle to Roggow on a perfect pick-and-roll play to swing a 49-47 lead to the Cardinals at the 10-minute mark.
Trio's left-corner 2-pointer tied the game at 49 before Pfingsten's traditional 3-point play was countered by Rebel forward Nate Pederson's trey at 52-all.
Unfortunately for USC, a technical foul was assessed to its bench on the heels of a Rebel personal foul, resulting in a four-point swing in the Cardinals' direction. Pfingsten sank both free throws before Ben Abel hit a baseline runner for a 56-52 lead with 5:48 remaining.
Despite Kloos' traditional 3-point play and Trio's 3-pointer coming out of the Rebel timeout, Pfingsten single-handedly outscored USC by a 9-2 margin to give Fairmont a lead that it would not relinquish.
Trio buried a 3-pointer to close the Rebels' gap to 65-63 with 24 seconds remaining, but Pfingsten found Ruen for the left-baseline lay-in with 8 seconds left to ice the victory.
Ruen finished with 12 points for the Cardinals, while Eversman grabbed eight boards to pace Fairmont's 27-26 rebounding edge.
Voigt supplied 10 points, a game-best nine boards and six assists to the Rebels' cause, while Pederson delivered 10 points.
Fairmont (3-0) opens South Central Conference action tonight by playing host to New Ulm.
USC (1-1) travels to Truman tonight to face Truman/Martin Luther in another nonconference clash.
Walker Tordsen scored 13 points to pace a balanced scoring attack as Fairmont downed USC, 60-50, during B-squad action Monday night in Fairmont.
Tyler Tennyson supplied 11 points and three assists for the Cardinals (3-0), Kale Fritz delivered 10 points, Jack Waletich scored nine points, while Tordsen and Noah Quiring topped the rebounding effort.
Tyler Johnson produced 12 points and five rebounds to help guide Fairmont to a 39-30 triumph over USC during C-squad action Monday night in Fairmont.
Alex Bertram contributed seven points to the Cardinals' win, while Matt Larson pulled down five rebounds.
Jackson County Central 69, Granada-Huntley-East Chain 45 - Jon Harmening scored a game-high 24 points to pace the Huskies to a 69-45 nonconference win over the Mustangs on Monday night in Jackson.
Darnell Taylor-Breck netted nine points and Colton Timmer added seven points for the Huskies in the win.
Josh Johanson scored 17 points to lead the Mustangs' offensive efforts, while teammate Trent Stensland added 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Ryan Shumski tallied seven points for GHEC.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (0-1) plays host to St. Clair in a 7:30 p.m. Valley Conference game on Thursday in East Chain.
Bishop Garrigan 70, North Union 35 - The Golden Bears extended their one-point halftime lead and held the Warriors to just 14 second-half points to earn a 70-35 nonconference victory over the Warriors on Monday in Armstrong.
Aric Runge led the Warriors with 16 points and eight rebounds, while teammate Jacob Braddock tallied 10 points.
Alex Krantz pulled down five boards, while Corey Vaske, Nathan Eaton and Eythan Blair each scored two points.
North Union (0-1) plays host to Garner-Hayfield/Ventura at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Armstrong.
Martin County West 79, Nicollet 43 - Reilly Geistfeld scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Mavericks to a 79-43 Valley Conference win over the Raiders on Monday in Nicollet.
Kate Thiesse added 15 points and six steals for the Mavericks, while Ellie Kuehl tallied 10 points.
Whitney Smith doled out five assists and McKenna Taylor grabbed 11 boards in the win.
The Mavericks swished 20 of 31 free throws in the game, and shot nearly 50 percent from the floor by making 29 of 59 shots.
Emily Skrien scored a team-leading 20 points to pace the Raiders, while Natasha Young Kruse recorded 10 points.
Martin County West (1-0, 1-0 Valley) plays host to St. Clair in a conference game at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Sherburn.
Nicollet (0-1, 0-1 Valley) travels to Arlington to play Sibley East in a nonconference game next Tuesday.