TRIMONT - Fairmont led Martin County West only three times during Monday night's clash of Section 3AA basketball rivals in Sherburn.
After the visiting Cardinals trailed the entire second half, Luke Becker drilled the eventual game-winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining in regulation before adding two free throws 1.6 seconds later to cap Fairmont's 52-49 comeback win over the hometown Mavericks.
"How long do you wait to take the last shot? I thought our players did everything right during the (next-to-last) possession," said MCW mentor Cliff Anderson. "When you get an open shot with time winding down, you have to take it, and we did and made it."
HANG TIME — Martin County West’s Cordell Weber (3) elevates to fire a jumpshot over Fairmont’s Luke Becker (5) and Josh Eversman (right) during nonconference basketball action Monday night in Trimont. Fairmont’s Mitch Pfingsten (left) and MCW’s Jake Sinn (13) watch the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
After Cardinal point guard Mitch Pfingsten drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 47-all with 48 seconds remaining, the Mavericks utilized their effective slow-down strategy to whittle time off of the scoreboard as Anderson called for "one shot."
Cordell Weber found a crease in the Fairmont defense, drove the lane and swooshed a pull-up jumper to stake MCW to a 49-47 lead with 11 seconds to go.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Pfingsten handled the basketball on the Cardinals' countering possession, drew the defense and fired a bullet to Becker in the left corner. Becker drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer before MCW called timeout with 2.9 seconds showing.
The Mavericks' inbound pass then sailed out-of-bounds, allowing the Cardinals to regain possession, with Becker getting fouled and sinking both ends of a one-and-one situation with 1.3 seconds left to ice the cardiac comeback.
"It didn't look good for us during the second half, but our guys just hung in there and fought back to get the win," said Pfingsten, who finished with a co-game-high 17 points and a game-best four assists.
Ironically, Fairmont led only twice in the opening half - 2-0 behind Josh Eversman's steal-turned-layup and 9-7 via Ben Abel's baseline gliding runner off a Becker assist.
The Mavericks and Cardinals battled to six ties, with the fifth deadlock occurring at 19-all during the opening seconds of the second half on Jay Ruen's baseline jumper.
Alex Biehn drilled a 3-pointer to snap the next-to-last tie as the Mavericks eventually built a 10-point lead at two junctures of the second segment.
Ahead 28-22, MCW forward Jake Faber nailed a left-corner trifecta for three of his 16 points before Weber hit a solo free throw for one of his co-game-high 17 points for a 32-22 edge with 10 minutes left in regulation.
Ruen and Pfingsten later connected on 3-pointers to sandwich Weber's 15-foot pull-up jumper in traffic to carve into the Mavericks' margin at 34-28.
Weber and Faber, however, restored MCW's double-digit lead with rolling jumpers off screens by Jake Sinn before Fairmont came storming back.
Trailing 45-39 on the heels of two Weber free throws, the Cardinals applied backcourt pressure to earn six free throws, with Nick Roggow, Becker and Ruen combining to make five to inch the visitors within one with 1:28 left.
Weber converted a clutch one-and-one situation to extend the Mavericks' lead to 47-44 at the 1:24 mark before Pfingsten drilled the tying 3 with 48 seconds left.
Faber grabbed a game-best eight rebounds to complement his 16-point performance for the Mavericks, while Biehn and Sinn supplied six points each.
Eversman, Ruen and Becker each netted nine points for the Cardinals, with Eversman and Becker garnering seven and six boards, respectively. Eversman also topped all defenders by pocketing five steals.
Fairmont (18-3, 7-2 South Central) plays host to Class 2A, No. 9-ranked St. James on Friday night, while Martin County West (11-7) travels to St. James on Thursday.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain 68, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 56 - Ryan Shumski erupted for a game-high 30 points to complement 11 rebounds and four steals to power the Mustangs to a 12-point Valley Conference victory over the Bulldogs on Monday night at East Chain School.
Trent Stensland scored 12 points for GHEC, Josh Wolter netted 10 points, while Jared Green chipped in seven points.
Josh Johanson produced five points and six assists, while Logan Pytleski contributed four points and seven boards to the Mustangs' winning ways.
GHEC hit 24 of 49 shots from 2-point range, 3 of 11 behind the 3-point arc and 11 of 18 at the free throw line.
Kyle Fisel poured in 24 points to top JWP, while teammate Ricky Johnson supplied 17 points.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (6-9, 5-5 Valley) plays host to Southwest Star Concept School on Friday night at East Chain School.
Truman/Martin Luther 61, Fulda 56 - Sam Geistfeld and Alex Weihe each produced double-doubles to engineer the BluejayKnights' six-point victory over the Raiders on Monday night in Truman.
Geistfeld topped all players by scoring 28 points to go with 14 rebounds, while Weihe generated 13 points and 10 boards.
Colton Greiner scored nine points for TML, while Tyler Wiederhoeft chipped in five points and six rebounds.
The BluejayKnights made 19 of 52 field goals and 15 of 26 free throws on the nonconference game.
Josh Ramerth netted 16 points to top Fulda, Bennett Appel scored 15, while Cole Dierks chipped in 14 points.
The Raiders hit 23 of 55 shots from the floor.
Truman/Martin Luther (9-11, 5-5 Valley) travels to New Ulm Cathedral on Thursday night.