BLUE EARTH - Fairmont power forward Alex Christianson proved perfect from the free throw line during the second half of Friday night's basketball game in Blue Earth.
Christianson made 9 of 9 charity tosses, including back-to-back conversions of one-and-one situations, to help engineer the visiting Cardinals' game-ending 12-0 scoring surge.
Christianson netted a game-best 16 points and garnered six rebounds, while teammate Kayla Lardy collected 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds to power Fairmont to a 50-33 South Central Conference triumph over the Blue Earth Area Bucs.
GETTING PHYSICAL — Blue Earth Area guard Taylor Grandgenett maintains control of the basketball despite defensive pressure by Fairmont’s Emily Kim during South Central Conference action Friday night in Blue Earth. The Cardinals’ Sierra Schultz (33) and Sierra Schrader (32) look to help out, while the Bucs’ Kaitlyn Olsen sprints up the court. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"With (starting guard Kristen) Campe out sick, and Mos (post player Courtney Mosloski) just returning from being ill earlier in the week, our whole rotation got out of synch tonight," said Cardinal mentor Don Waletich. "It wasn't pretty stat-wise, but we battled through the adversity to come away with the win."
The Bucs' ball-hawking pressure defense forced the Cardinals to commit 13 turnovers during the opening 18 minutes to keep within striking distance - 22-17 - by intermission.
Taylor Grandgenett's steal-turned-jump shot and Kaitlyn Olsen's 3-pointer combined to swing a 14-11 lead to Blue Earth Area before Lardy, Sierra Schultz and Christianson countered with a 9-2 run just before halftime.
Lardy converted Emily Kim's low-post entry pass into a turnaround 8-footer before Schultz crashed the offensive glass for a putback basket on the ensuing trip.
Haley Harder then delivered a pinpoint pass to Lardy in the lane for a short leaner before Bucs' forward Jenna Stevermer sank two free throws to interrupt the Cardinals' surge.
Lardy followed with a solo free throw before Sierra Schrader fed Christianson for a turnaround jumper in the low blocks for a 20-16 lead with a minute to go before the break.
Christianson and Lardy worked the paint during the early stages of the second half to eventually build a 34-23 edge before the Bucs answered down the stretch.
Grandgenett's 12-footer in traffic, followed by Jenna Stevermer's conversion of one of her team-best seven boards into a putback basket, inched Blue Earth Area within five at 38-33 with six minutes remaining in regulation.
Christianson, however, worked the narrow seams of the lane to earn three consecutive trips to the free throw line, sinking six in a row - including a pair of one-and-one situations - to re-establish an 11-point lead with 4:30 left in the game.
Mosloski swooshed a left-wing 15-footer off Christianson's kickout pass, Schultz hit a pull-up 10-footer in the lane and Lardy fed Kim for a left-wing 17-footer to close out the game.
Schultz finished with eight points, while Kim chipped in six points and four assists.
Kaitlyn Olsen topped the Bucs with 10 points, Jenna Stevermer produced eight points, seven boards and three steals, while Grandgenett collected six points, five rebounds and four steals.
Fairmont (4-1, 2-0 SCC) plays host to Byron at 5 p.m. today at Cardinal Gym in Game 1 of another varsity doubleheader.
Blue Earth Area (2-2, 1-1) plays host to Waseca on Thursday night.
Martin County West 54, Granada-Huntley-East Chain 48 - Taryn Tumbleson produced 16 points, six steals and four assists to help propel the Mavericks to a six-point Valley Conference victory over the Mustangs on Friday night in Sherburn.
Reilly Geistfeld contributed 12 points to MCW's winning effort, Madyson Larson hauled in seven rebounds, while McKenna Taylor chipped in five blocked shots and four steals.
Rachel Shumski delivered a team-best double-double performance of 14 points and 12 rebounds to complement three steals to top GHEC.
Emily Zaharia scored 10 points for the Mustangs, Kenlie Pytleski pulled down eight rebounds, Brooke McDonald grabbed seven boards, while Mariah Jensen pocketed three steals.
Martin County West (5-0, 2-0 Valley) plays host to Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton on Tuesday night in Sherburn.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (2-2, 2-2) travels to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial on Tuesday night for a conference game.
North Union 49, Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire 39 - Dena Looft generated 10 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists to engineer the Warriors' 10-point Corn Belt Conference triumph over the Knights on Friday night in Graettinger, Iowa.
Aurora Oliver tallied a team-best 12 points to complement three steals for North Union, while Peyton Oleson scored nine points.
Sarah Rolling contributed six rebounds and five steals to the Warriors' winning ways, while Madison Irmiter hauled in six boards.
North Union made 14 of 37 shots from 2-point range, 3 of 12 from behind the 3-point arc and 12 of 29 at the free throw line.
North Union (3-2, 1-0 Corn Belt) travels to Estherville, Iowa, on Monday to face Estherville-Lincoln Central.
No. Union 31-18-49