FAIRMONT - "The word for tonight was 'efficient.' That's how we shot the ball against Pipestone's defense, especially during the second half," Fairmont head basketball coach Jared Thompson said.
Thompson's postgame analysis proved a bit modest as his Cardinals scorched the Cardinal Gym nets on 17 of 27 field goals for 63 percent during the final 18 minutes of Saturday night's nonconference clash against the Arrows.
Forward Josh Eversman connected on 11 of 19 shots from the floor to generate a game-best 24 points to complement a game-high 10 rebounds to steer Fairmont to a 75-65 victory over Pipestone Area.
GETTING VERTICAL — Fairmont’s Josh Eversman (25) outleaps Pipestone Area’s Collin Moeller (44) for a rebound during nonconference basketball action Saturday at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Luke Becker (5) and Nick Roggow (41), along with the Arrows’ Brayden Baartman (right), look on. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
The Arrows, however, utilized their potent inside-outside combination of 6-foot-6 center Collin Moeller and point guard Boyer Bouman to stay within striking distance throughout the entire first half.
Trailing by their largest deficit - six points - of the opening segment, Moeller utilized his height and vertical leap to elevate above the rim for back-to-back baskets. Bouman then nailed a 15-foot baseline jumper to knot the game one last time at 19-all with 4:30 remaining before intermission.
Fairmont point guard Mitch Pfingsten and Eversman, however, packed a lethal 1-2 scoring punch during the final 4 minutes to re-establish a six-point edge at the break.
Pfingsten, who finished with 21 points to complement a co-game-high five assists, snapped the tie with a pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Pfingsten later drilled another 3 to counter Pipestone Area reserve Dominic Freese's trey before Eversman displayed his vertical leap to tip in a miss to offset Arrows guard Trent VanRoekel's low-post basket.
Forward Jay Ruen, who sank 5 of 6 first-half free throws, then joined Eversman and Pfingsten in igniting the Cardinals' hot-handed shooting ways from the perimeter during the second segment.
Ruen connected on an early 3 before Eversman knocked down another trey to widen Fairmont's margin to double digits at 45-34 with 13 minutes to go in regulation.
Moeller, who neared double-double territory with 14 points and eight boards, and forward Justin Rops slowly carved into the Cardinals' lead to close within six again at 49-43 and cause Thompson to call timeout at the 10:49 mark.
Pfingsten responded with a pull-up left-wing 15 footer before he spotted Luke Becker for a right-wing 3 on the ensuing trip downcourt. Eversman then cleared the defensive glass and went coast-to-coast for a lay-in to rebuild the home team's lead to 56-43.
Ironically, after Pipestone Area head coach Ed Gustafson's timeout at the 8:17 juncture, Bouman delivered three of his team-best 21 points out of the short recess, but Eversman answered the challenge with his second trey of the game.
Fairmont post player Nick Roggow then drew a pair of charges during a 2-minute span, causing Gustafson to have a difference of opinion with the officials en route to a technical foul.
"The timing of Nick taking those two charges was pivotal and really kept Pipestone from gaining any momentum during the final four minutes of the game," said Thompson.
Pfingsten then reeled off five of the Cardinals' ensuing 9-3 run to extend the red-and-white's lead to 70-52 with 1:29 remaining as Thompson opted for his reserves to close out the game.
Ruen delivered 12 points and four assists for Fairmont.
Fairmont (15-3, 6-2 South Central) travels to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial tonight, weather permitting.
Pipestone Area (8-7) plays host to Jackson County Central in Game 2 of a varsity doubleheader at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night.
Tyler Tennyson connected on six 3-pointers to pace his 20-point performance to guide Fairmont to a 59-48 victory over Pipestone Area during B-squad action Saturday in Fairmont.
Tennyson also pocketed seven steals for the Cardinals (13-1), while teammate Walker Tordsen netted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Kale Fritz scored nine points for Fairmont, Josh Liljenquist tallied seven points, while Noah Quiring chipped in six points and six boards.
Tordsen generated 17 points and seven rebounds to help engineer Fairmont's 56-44 win over Blue Earth Area on Thursday night.
Fritz scored 13 points, Jack Waletich supplied 10 points, while Tennyson produced 10 points and four assists for the Cardinals.
Glenville-Emmons 64, Madelia 63 - Senior Aaron Dempewolf swished a pair of free throws in the final three seconds to guide the Wolverines to a 64-63 nonconference win over the Blackhawks on Saturday in Madelia.
Madelia sophomore Derrick Van Hee, who finished with a team-leading 23 points, had a chance to sink a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left to give the Blackhawks the 65-62 lead.
Van Hee, who was 7 for 10 from the free throw line, missed the charity tosses and Gempewolf was fouled on the ensuing Wolverine possession.
Gabin Allison scored 23 points for the Wolverines, including 20 in the second half to help the visitors overcome a three-point halftime deficit.
Derek Van Ryswyk netted 18 points, including 15 from behind the 3-point arc to add to the winning effort.
Jack Bergeman contributed 14 points to the Blackhawk offensive effort, while Kyle Schultz netted 10 points.
Jordan Henry swished three-3s in the seconds half for all of his nine points for the Blackhawks.
Madelia (7-11, 4-5 Valley) plays host to Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart in a nonconference game at 7:30 p.m. today in Madelia.
Glenville-Emmons (6-11) travels to play LeRoy-Ostrander at 7:15 p.m. today in LeRoy.