FAIRMONT - Fairmont's trapping zone defense created a plus-10 turnover ratio and limited Granada-Huntley-East Chain's offensive chances in the lane during Saturday night's county clash of basketball rivals in Fairmont.
Kristen Campe pocketed a game-best six steals to complement her 10-point performance, while power forward Alex Christianson and center Kayla Lardy each produced double-doubles to power the Cardinals' 47-33 victory over the Mustangs at Cardinal Gym.
"We'll look to apply some defensive pressure on them (the Mustangs) tonight," Fairmont head coach Don Waletich said prior to the nonconference game's tipoff.
3-POINT RELEASE — Fairmont guard Sierra Schultz (33) releases a 3-pointer from the left wing as Granada-Huntley-East Chain’s Allyson Cegelske (31) and Nicole Lenort (13) defend during nonconference basketball action Saturday night in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
While the Cardinals' lengthy starting lineup - which averages nearly 5-foot-10 per player - caused 16 first-half turnovers, the home team's 28-percent field-goal shooting kept the score close until the final 3 minutes of the opening half.
Trailing 10-4, GHEC mentor Rick Uttech called timeout at the 11:51 juncture and his hoopsters responded with an ensuing 7-0 run to grab their first lead of the night.
Freshman post player Kenlie Pytleski converted Emily Zaharia's low-post entry pass into a basket before Zaharia snapped the nets on a left-wing 3-pointer off an assist from Allyson Cegelske.
Center Rachel Shumski later alertly scooped up the Cardinals' errant pass into the home team's backcourt and hit a layup to swing an 11-10 edge to the Mustangs at the 8-minute mark.
Lardy, who collected stellar all-around numbers of 10 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four assists, and Pytleski traded interior baskets before Campe triggered Fairmont's 9-0 scoring surge to close out the first half.
Campe took one of Sierra Schultz's three assists and buried a 3-pointer from the right corner before Campe tossed in a baseline leaner with 2:22 to go before halftime.
Courtney Mosloski, who missed the second half due to a migraine headache, then snapped the nets on a right-wing jumper off an assist from Christianson.
Christianson, who delivered a game-best 13 points to complement 10 boards, then converted Lardy's assist into a baseline lay-in to extend the Cardinals' lead to 21-13 with 30 seconds left before intermission.
Christianson then produced a pair of pivotal baskets out of her 11 second-half points to keep GHEC from whittling Fairmont's lead to less than six during the final 18 minutes.
Zaharia's left-wing 15-footer and power forward Brooke McDonald's solo free throw narrowed the Mustangs' deficit to six during the second half's early stages, but Lardy threaded a pass to Christianson for a low-post basket to restore the Cardinals' lead to 24-16.
Nicole Lenort later swooshed a pull-up jumper in the lane before spotting McDonald for a low-post lay-in to close the visitors' gap to 28-22 with 10 minutes remaining.
Christianson, however, answered with a baseline leaner before Schultz drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing off a Campe assist to rebuild an 11-point Fairmont lead with 8 minutes to go.
GHEC did not get closer than nine on the scoreboard after that juncture.
Schultz scored seven points to go with her three assists for the Cardinals.
Shumski tallied seven points, six rebounds and three steals for the Mustangs, McDonald pulled down a team-best seven boards, while Zaharia and Pytleski scored six points apiece.
Fairmont (10-2, 4-0 South Central) plays host to Redwood Valley on Tuesday night, while Granada-Huntley-East Chain (3-4, 3-2 Valley) travels to Northrop on Thursday to face Martin Luther.
Taylor Crissinger produced 14 points, four steals and three rebounds to help guide Fairmont to a 37-26 victory over North Union during C-squad action Saturday in Fairmont.
Brooke Hunwardsen and Claire Cutler each scored five points for the Cardinals, while Mikayla Soelter chipped in four points.