FAIRMONT - Mitch Sitzmann made four consecutive free throws during the final 16 seconds of regulation to help Martin County West stave off Fairmont's frenetic second-half comeback on Tuesday night.
Sitzmann converted a critical one-and-one situation at the 15.7-second juncture before sinking two more charity tosses with 3.6 seconds left to seal the Mavericks' 48-45 non-league basketball victory over the Cardinals in Fairmont.
"We made some clutch free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win," said MCW mentor Cliff Anderson. "You have to give credit to Fairmont for coming out with a lot of intensity to start the second half after trailing by 10 at halftime.
LONG REBOUND — Martin County West forward Jake Faber (10) stretches out to grab a long rebound that is just out of Fairmont guard Mitch Pfingsten’s reach during nonconference basketball action Tuesday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Ryan Noll (31), Levi Becker and Josh Eversman (back right) watch the action. Photo by Leanna Becker
"I knew it (final outcome) was going to go right down to the wire tonight."
Down 43-36 on the heels of Maverick forward Jake Faber's one-and-one conversion, the Cardinals sliced their deficit to only one point when point guard Mitch Pfingsten snapped the nylon cords on back-to-back 3s.
Pfingsten, who topped all scorers with 18 points, swooshed his second trifecta at the 1:19 juncture to inch Fairmont within 43-42.
Cordell Weber, who matched Austin Krumwiede for team-high honors with 12 points each, hit the front end of a one-and-one to put MCW ahead 44-42 only 10 seconds later before Sitzmann worked his magic at the line.
Sitzmann's one-and-one conversion rebuilt the Mavericks' four-point margin before Cardinal forward Jay Ruen drained a 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining to inch within one again.
Fairmont, which had used all of its timeouts to formulate its comeback strategy down the stretch, was forced to foul as time elapsed.
Sitzmann then sank two more free throws before MCW's defense contested Fairmont's last-second 3-point attempt.
"Krumwiede really killed us on the boards during the first half," Cardinal mentor Jared Thompson said in reference to the Maverick power forward's double-double effort of 12 points and a game-best 11 rebounds. " ... We didn't have any (offensive) rhythm in the first half, but I thought our energy was much better in the second half.
"I was proud of the way our guys fought back, but Martin County West played hard and deserved it (the victory) tonight."
Trailing 30-20 at intermission, the Cardinals assembled a 9-3 offensive surge out of the lockerroom to whittle the Mavericks' margin to four points only six minutes into the second half.
Pfingsten hit a putback basket to trigger Fairmont's comeback bid before Ruen converted a traditional 3-point play off an assist from Bryce Holm.
Weber drilled a 3-pointer off of a Sitzmann penetrate-and-dish pass to counter for MCW before Cardinal guard Ryan Noll distributed back-to-back assists to Levi Becker and Holm.
Jordan Ebeling, however, flipped home a pivotal putback basket to ignite the Mavericks' ensuing 6-0 run that re-established a 10-point gap at 39-29.
Weber hit a reverse lay-in off of one of Krumwiede's three assists before Sitzmann followed with a scoop in traffic.
The game's initial minutes, however, proved all MCW as the visitors opened with a 14-0 run, bookended by Faber's game-opening 3-pointer and Sitzmann's trey. Fairmont, which made only 6 of 25 field goals in the first half for 24 percent, was 0-for-6 from the field to open the game.
Sitzmann scored nine points for the Mavericks, while Faber contributed seven points and six rebounds.
Levi Becker scored eight points for the Cardinals, while Ruen supplied six points, five rebounds and four assists.
Fairmont (4-2) travels to St. James on Thursday night, while Martin County West (5-0) plays host to Maple River on Thursday night in Sherburn.
Jake Sinn scored 16 points to guide Martin County West to a 39-34 victory over Fairmont during B-squad action Tuesday night in Fairmont.
Sam Baker contributed eight points to the Mavericks' winning effort.
Spencer Chirpich produced 15 points and four steals to top the Cardinals, while Ben Abel added six points and five boards.
Tyler Tennyson collected 12 points, five rebounds and five assists to engineer Fairmont's 36-30 triumph over Martin County West during C-squad action Tuesday night in Fairmont.
Josh Liljenquist scored nine points for the Cardinals (3-3), Noah Quiring tallied five points, while Clayton Maakestad and Anthony Shimon each pulled down five rebounds.
Josh Liljenquist delivered 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting to propel Fairmont to a 45-10 victory over Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial during C-squad action on Saturday.
Chris Andrews grabbed five rebounds for the Cardinals, Tyler Tennyson pocketed four steals and Jake Kallenbach distributed three assists.
Truman/Martin Luther 87, St. James 77 - Point guard Cade Ekstrom neared triple-double territory to power the BluejayKnights to a 10-point nonconference victory over the Saints on Tuesday night in St. James.
Ekstrom scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and distributed seven assists, while teammate Sam Geistfeld produced a double-double effort of 15 points and 16 rebounds to complement four steals.
Chandler Greier scored 19 points for TML, while teammate Jeremy Smith delivered 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Truman/Martin Luther (4-2, 0-2 Valley) plays host to St. Clair on Thursday night in Truman.