FAIRMONT - Class 2A, No. 10-ranked Fairmont pounded the basketball into the paint against Pipestone Area early and often Saturday and exited Cardinal Gym with a sectional victory.
Center Kayla Lardy produced a game-best 15 points to complement seven rebounds and four steals, while post player Courtney Mosloski netted 12 points and a game-high eight boards to power the Cardinals to a 53-38 triumph over the visiting Arrows.
"Our defensive pressure created some early opportunities for us and after that, we just worked on improving our rhythm on offense," said Fairmont mentor Don Waletich, whose lineup created a plus-13 edge in turnovers against Section 3AA rival Pipestone Area.
SIDE-TO-SIDE SCRAMBLE — Fairmont guard Emily Kim (center) battles Pipestone Area guard Anneka Bucher (left) for control of the bounding basketball during nonconference action Saturday at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Alex Christianson watches the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Not only did the Cardinals force the Arrows to commit 30 miscues - including 18 in the opening 18 minutes, but the home team worked the low post and heart of the lane on offense to earn 16 free throws in each half.
Point guard Sierra Schultz connected on 5 of 6 charity tosses, while Courtney Mosloski and Alex Christianson went 4 of 6 and 4 of 7 at the line, respectively, to pace Fairmont's 18-for-32 performance. The Cardinals doubled the Arrows' attempts at the line, and sank 11 more free throws - 18-7.
Ahead 12-7, guard Kristen Campe swooshed a 15-foot pull-up jumper from the baseline to serve as the catalyst behind Fairmont's ensuing 10-0 run.
Christianson tossed in a pair of free throws before Schultz delivered one of her game-best three assists to Lardy cutting to the basket on an inbound play.
Emily Kim then spotted Lardy for a traditional 3-point play from the low blocks before Mosloski's solo charity toss extended the red-and-white's lead to 22-7 with 5 minutes remaining in the first half.
Center Libby Scheider, who paced the Arrows with 12 points, hit a putback basket to temporarily halt the Cardinals' first-half momentum.
Schneider later delivered a traditional 3-point play with nine seconds remaining before halftime to pare Pipestone Area's deficit to 31-17, but Lardy countered by banking home a buzzer-beating, 30-foot trifecta to end the half.
Christianson's floating runner in traffic, Mosloski's two free throws and Schultz's right-wing jumper triggered a 6-0 run to open the second half and the Cardinals never looked back.
Schultz supplied seven points for Fairmont, Christianson chipped in six points, while Sierra Schrader added four points and four rebounds.
Megan Remund connected on two 3-pointers en route to scoring eight points for the Arrows, while teammate Anneka Bucher added six points off the bench.
Fairmont (17-3, 7-0 South Central) plays host to St. Peter on Thursday night.
Pipestone Area (3-11) plays host to Jackson County Central at 6 p.m. Thursday as part of a varsity doubleheader.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain 55, Springfield 50 - The Mustangs held off the late charging Tigers to capture the 55-50 nonconference victory on Saturday in East Chain.
Rachel Shumski poured in 20 points to go along with three steals to pace the Mustang effort.
Emily Zaharia contributed 11 points, while Kenlie Pytleski netted seven points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Allyson Cegelske doled out six assists and made six steals for the Mustangs, who made 19 of 42 shots from the floor and went 15 for 22 from the charity stripe.
Joeli Arnoldi scored a team-leading 19 points, while Therese Roiger recorded 10 points for the Tiger offense.
Springfield made 17 of 57 attempts from the floor and sank 14 of 27 free throws.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (6-7, 5-5 Valley) travels to play a conference game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in St. Clair.
Springfield (6-7) plays host to Cedar Mountain/Comfrey in a 7:30 p.m. game on Tuesday in Springfield.