FAIRMONT - Waseca's yeoman boardwork and high-octane bench contributions proved too much for Class 2A, No. 2 Fairmont to overcome during Friday night's South Central Conference basketball clash at Cardinal Gym.
Reserve center Devin Williamson delivered a team-best 16 points and garnered six rebounds, while point guard Shane Streich converted pivotal back-to-back one-and-one situations during the final 37 seconds to ice the Bluejays' 67-58 triumph over the hometown Cardinals in Fairmont.
"He (Streich) got a little out of rhythm after being called for his second foul somewhat early in the first half, but he really showed his composure late in the game," said Waseca head coach Todd Dufault. "To step to the (free throw) line and convert a pair of bonus situations in a close game like that says a lot about him."
APPLYING PRESSURE — Fairmont’s Mitch Pfingsten applies defensive pressure to Waseca guard Nick Dufault during South Central Conference basketball action Friday night in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Nick Roggow (far right) and Josh Eversman (second from left), along with the Bluejays’ Josh Kummerfeldt (32) and Jake Busse, watch the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Trailing 62-50 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation, Jay Ruen and Josh Eversman, however, applied the defensive pressure to create back-to-back steals as Cardinal teammate Mitch Pfingsten reeled off eight straight points to narrow the gap to four over a 40-second span.
Pfingsten, who finished with 18 points despite an injured shooting hand, drilled a 3-pointer off one of Eversman's four assists before Ruen pickpocketed the Bluejays and fed Pfingsten for the layup. Eversman, who produced a game-high 20 points, then garnered a steal and spotted Pfingsten for another 3 to close within 62-58 with 1:50 left in the game.
Streich, however, drained one-and-ones at the 37- and 25-second junctures, respectively, to seal Waseca's win.
"We did make it a game late, but they simply played better than us tonight," said Fairmont head coach Jared Thompson. "Waseca dominated the boards (38-19 advantage), and got great production off their bench (31 points)."
After Nick Roggow buried a right-corner jumper off an Eversman assist to narrow the Cardinals' early deficit to 15-12, the 6-foot-5 Williamson made his presence felt in the low post to trigger the Bluejays' ensuing 13-2 surge.
Williamson, who blistered the nets on 8-for-10 field-goal shooting, delivered back-to-back baseline baskets before reserve guard Josh Kimball hit a putback bucket.
Eversman, who connected on 9 of 17 from the floor, swooshed a right-corner 2-pointer to interrupt the Waseca reserves' next offensive outburst triggered by Josh Kummerfeldt's 3-pointer. Kimball chipped in a right-corner jumper before starting center Jake Busse hit a low-post turnaround off one of Nick Dufault's game-high five assists to double the Bluejays' lead to 28-14 with 7 minutes left before halftime.
"Jake really controlled the boards down the stretch and gave us multiple looks at the basket when we were trying to control the clock," Todd Dufault said in reference to Busse garnering eight of his game-high 11 boards during the second half.
Ruen's 3-pointer and Eversman's pull-up 17-footer trimmed the Cardinals' deficit to 41-39 during the initial stages of the second half, but the home team would not get any closer as Kummerfeldt and Streich answered with 3-pointers.
Ruen finished with eight points, four steals and three assists for the Cardinals, while Nick Dufault tallied 13 points to complement his five assists for the Bluejays.
Kummerfeldt delivered nine points off the bench for Waseca
Fairmont (4-1, 1-1) travels to Blue Earth Area next Friday night, while Waseca (4-0, 1-0) hits the road to Waterville on Tuesday night.
Fairmont edged Waseca, 45-35, during B-squad action Friday night.
Tyler Tennyson produced 13 points, four steals and four assists to pace the Cardinals (5-0), while Kale Fritz supplied 13 points.
Walker Tordsen contributed eight points and eight rebounds to the winning cause, while Eli Green doled out three assists.
Waseca squeezed by Fairmont, 43-42, during C-squad play on Friday night in Fairmont.
Carter Lloyd scored 11 points to top the Cardinals (4-1), while teammate Kade Fritz supplied nine points.
Martin County West 46, Luverne 34 - Jake Faber delivered a game-high 14 points to complement seven rebounds in guiding the Mavericks to a 12-point non-league victory over the Cardinals on Friday at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Cordell Weber contributed nine points, five assists and five steals to MCW's winning performance, while Richard Eckmann supplied nine points and three assists.
Jake Sinn collected six points and seven rebounds for the Mavericks, who made only 6 of 18 free throws.
Martin County West (3-0, 1-0 Valley) hosts St. Clair on Tuesday night in Trimont.