FAIRMONT - Mitch Pfingsten dribbled into traffic, glided around a defender and flipped the basketball over the front of the rim and into the Cardinal Gym net.
Pfingsten used his patented drive to become Fairmont's all-time leading scorer with 3:26 remaining in the opening half of the Cardinals' South Central Conference opener against New Ulm on Tuesday night.
More importantly, Pfingsten finished with a game-high 28 points and a co-team-best five assists, while teammates Jay Ruen and Josh Eversman each delivered 19 points to propel the Class 2A, No. 3-ranked Cardinals to an 82-76 triumph over the vastly-improved Eagles in Fairmont.
RECORD-SETTER — Fairmont guard Mitch Pfingsten (3) drives around New Ulm’s Tyler Dittrich (52) and Tanner Kluis (14) during South Central Conference basketball action Tuesday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Josh Eversman (25) sets a screen on the Eagles’ Jackson Yackley (24) on the play. Pfingsten went on to become Fairmont’s all-time leading scorer during the game. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"Mitch has put in a lot of hard work to reach that milestone," Fairmont head coach Jared Thompson said in reference to Pfingsten eclipsing former Cardinal standout Eric Hugoson's No. 1 career scoring mark of 1,481 points. "A lot of talented teammates have helped contribute to that great accomplishment, and in the process, won a lot of games for us during the last four years."
Pfingsten, who needed only six points to break the program's all-time scoring mark, converted two of Ruen's co-team-best five assists into back-to-back baskets to extend the Cardinals' edge to 38-26, but the Eagles refused to go quietly into the lockerroom by halftime.
Center Tyler Dittrich, who neared double-double territory by delivering 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds, triggered New Ulm's 7-0 countering run during the final 2 minutes of the first half.
Dittrich converted one of Grant Kannegiesser's team-best four assists for a runner in traffic, Jackson Yackley tossed in a baseline leaner and Dittrich stepped behind the arc to nail a 3-pointer to trim the Eagles' deficit to 38-33 with a minute to go.
Eversman, Pfingsten and Ruen, however, combined forces during the early stages of the second half to re-establish a double-figure margin via their own 7-0 surge.
Pfingsten spotted Eversman for a right-corner 2-pointer, Pfingsten delivered a traditional 3-point play and Ruen capped the mini-run with a midcourt steal and ensuing layup for a 46-35 lead.
Kannegiesser, who finished with stellar all-around numbers of a team-high 23 points to go with seven boards, and 3-point shootist Tanner Ogren, however, did not allow the Cardinals to create too much separation on the scoreboard.
Kannegiesser's low-post hard work and Ogren's 5-for-6 performance from bonus territory kept the Eagles within striking distance at 71-66 with 2:28 remaining in regulation.
Ben Abel later converted Pfingsten's baseline wraparound pass before Ruen hit a key putback to extend Fairmont's edge to 77-66 with a minute to go.
Kannegiesser and Jarin Spence, however, combined on a four-point play via Spence's putback off Kannegiesser's missed charity toss on the back end of a potential 3-point play to inch New Ulm within seven with 40 seconds showing.
Pfingsten then drained four free throws to sandwich Ogren's fourth trifecta of the game before Ruen chipped in a solo free throw. Ogren then connected on a buzzer-beating 3 to finish with 21 points on the night.
Fairmont (4-0, 1-0 SCC) plays host to Waseca on Friday night, while New Ulm (1-3, 0-1) plays host to Blue Earth Area.
Walker Tordsen produced a double-double performance of 13 points and 14 rebounds to complement four blocked shots to guide Fairmont to a 61-47 victory over New Ulm during B-squad action Tuesday night in Fairmont.
Jack Waletich supplied 12 points and three steals to the Cardinals' winning ways, while Josh Liljenquist scored 10 points.
Tyler Tennyson netted nine points and three steals for Fairmont (4-0), Kale Fritz delivered eight points and seven boards, while Eli Green distributed four assists.
Carter Lloyd scored 11 points to help lead Fairmont to a 46-25 triumph over New Ulm during C-squad action Tuesday night in Fairmont.
Tyler Johnson collected nine points and three assists for the Cardinals (4-0), while teammate Christian Engeman pocketed five steals.
United South Central 74, Truman/Martin Luther 36 - Steve Voigt and Walker Linde equally combined for 30 points to power the Rebels to a 74-36 nonconference victory over the BluejayKnights on Tuesday night in Truman.
Voigt produced 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds for USC, while Linde generated 15 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Sam Geistfeld collected 15 points and seven boards to top TML, while teammates Alex Weihe and Colton Greiner delivered eight points each.
The BluejayKnights connected on 15 of 50 shots from the floor and 2 of 6 at the free throw line, while the Rebels hit 27 of 58 field goals and 10 of 15 charity tosses.
Truman/Martin Luther (2-1) plays host to St. James on Thursday night in Northrop.
St. James 77, Blue Earth Area 63 - Zach Brandts erupted for a game-best 27 points to guide the Saints to a 77-63 South Central Conference victory over the Bucs on Tuesday night in Blue Earth.
Ryan Menssen contributed 14 points to St. James' balanced scoring attack, Walker Froehling tallied 11 points, while John Olsen and Tyler Witcraft each chipped in 10 points.
Luke Monson netted 23 points to complement 10 rebounds to pace Blue Earth Area's effort, while Quinn Huisman neared double-double territory by scoring 10 points and garnering eight boards.
Derek Johnson collected 11 points and distributed six assists for the Bucs, while Calvin Sanders and Kellen Jacobs added eight and seven points, respectively.
Blue Earth Area (0-2, 0-1 SCC) travels to New Ulm on Friday night, while St. James (2-0, 1-0) faces Truman/Martin Luther on Thursday night in Northrop.
St. James 48-29-77
B.E. Area 37-26-63
Worthington 68, Fairmont 64 - Ana Boever and Brooke Henning combined for 42 points to help the Trojans squeeze by the Cardinals, 68-64, during season-opening nonconference action Tuesday night in Worthington.
Boever tossed in a game-leading 22 points, while Henning netted 20.
Kristen Campe scored a team-best 18 points and pulled down four rebounds for Fairmont, while Sierra Schrader pocketed 14 points, five boards and three assists.
Kayla Lardy delivered 11 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinals, while Courtney Mosloski produced solid all-around numbers of eight points, a team-best 11 boards, a game-high six assists and three steals.
Sierra Schultz chipped in seven points and six rebounds for Fairmont, which made 19 of 56 shots from 2-point range, 3 of 5 from behind the arc and 17 of 32 at the free throw line.
Fairmont (0-1) travels to Belle Plaine on Thursday night for another non-league clash.
Worthington downed Fairmont, 40-28, during B-squad action on Tuesday night in Worthington.
Marisa Nelson scored nine points to top the Cardinals (0-1), Alexis Bass and Larissa Becker netted five points each, Sophie Brau tallied four steals and three boards, while Abby Fitzgerald added three rebounds.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain 59, Madelia 24 - Allyson Cegelske scored a game-best 14 points to pace a balanced attack as the Mustangs rolled to a 59-24 Valley Conference victory over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night in Madelia.
Cegelske also pocketed four steals, teammate Rachel Shumski collected 13 points and a game-best seven rebounds, while Emily Zaharia scored 10 points for GHEC.
Brooke McDonald and Kenlie Pytleski each garnered seven boards to help Shumski pace the Mustangs' 44-21 rebounding edge in the opener.
Mariah Jensen made a game-best seven steals for GHEC, which sank 10 of 22 free throws on the game.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (1-0, 1-0 Valley) plays host to Mankato Loyola on Friday night at East Chain School.
Martin County West 67, St. Clair 46 - Kate Thiesse scored a game-high 14 points to steer the Mavericks to a 67-46 Valley Conference victory over the Cyclones on Tuesday night in Sherburn.
Taryn Tumbleson delivered 10 points and a co-game-high five steals for MCW, while Reilly Geistfeld hauled in a game-best 10 rebounds.
Madyson Larson pocketed a co-game-best five steals for the Mavericks, while Whitney Smith doled out four assists.
Martin County West (2-0, 2-0 Valley) plays Luverne at 7 p.m. Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
St. Clair 21-25-46
Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 43, North Union 27 - The Vikings limited the Warriors to just six second-half points to pocket the 16-point nonconference victory on Tuesday night in Armstrong.
Peyton Oleson scored nine points and grabbed four boards to pace North Union, while Sarah Rolling supplied eight points.
Madison Irmiter and Jaycie Eaton contributed three steals apiece for the Warriors, who hit 7 of 26 shots from 2-point range, 2 of 6 behind the arc and 5 of 11 at the free throw line.
North Union (2-1) travels to Newell-Fonda on Thursday, Dec. 12.
NU 21- 6-27