BLUE EARTH - Even a gash along her right eyebrow and periodic bleeding from it on Friday night could not stop Alex Christianson from scoring a game-high 19 points.
The Fairmont sophomore power forward connected on 9 of 14 field goals, grabbed six boards and made three steals to guide the Cardinals to a 47-35 South Central Conference basketball victory over the Blue Earth Area Bucs in Blue Earth.
"I thought our bigs (post players) Kayla (Lardy) and Alex worked well in the high-low (halfcourt set)," Fairmont mentor Don Waletich said. "We put Kayla out high and she did a nice job of reading the defense and making the pass inside."
BASELINE DRIVE — Fairmont forward Alex Christianson (left) drives around Blue Earth Area defender Ciarra Olson (4) along the baseline during South Central Conference basketball action on Friday night in Blue Earth. Photo Leanna Becker
Christianson converted one of Sierra Schultz's three assists into a 12-foot baseline jumper to stake the Cardinals to a 7-4 lead before exiting at the 11:48 juncture due to the injury.
Krista Hassing, who produced a double-double of a team-high 15 points and a game-best 12 rebounds, and the Bucs capitalized on Christianson's absence by reeling off five unanswered points to grab a three-point lead.
After diligent work by the onsite medical trainers and Fairmont's coaching staff, Christianson returned to the hardwood court on a mission.
Cardinal guard Kristen Campe, who netted 12 points on the game, nailed one of her three 3-pointers to knot the game at 12-all before Christianson generated eight of the visitors' ensuing 10 points to cap a pivotal 13-4 run.
Emily Kim fed Christianson for a right baseline jumper for a 22-16 Fairmont edge with 2 minutes remaining before halftime, but Blue Earth Area guard Taylor Grandgenett countered with a pair of free throws.
Christianson and Kim switched roles as Christianson pocketed a backcourt steal and fired a perfect pass to a cutting Kim for a lay-in with a minute to go before intermission.
Grandgenett then toed the charity stripe and contributed two makes en route to the Bucs' 19-for-32 free throw-shooting performance on the night. Oddly, Blue Earth Area nearly attempted as many free throws as it did field goals - 8 of 35.
"I think our 3-2 (defensive) zone got them (the Bucs) out of their comfort zone tonight," Waletich said.
Despite back-to-back runners in the lane from Jenna Stevermer, plus Hassing delivering the Bucs' next points to open the second half, Campe and Christianson helped the Cardinals maintain a five- to eight-point lead down the stretch.
After Hassing's putback basket knotted the game at 29-all at the 11:40 mark, Campe nailed a 3-pointer off a Tracy Thiesse assist before Lardy and Kim worked a perfect screen-and-roll play to build a five-point edge.
Blue Earth Area guard Kaitlyn Olsen's runner in traffic whittled the home team's deficit to 40-35 with 2 minutes remaining, but Campe converted Kim's fourth and final assist into a press-breaking layup before Fairmont iced the victory by hitting 5 of 6 free throws during the final 1:11. Kim and Schultz converted back-to-back one-and-one situations to engineer the charity shooting.
Lardy contributed six points and a team-best nine rebounds to the Cardinals' winning ways.
Fairmont (4-9, 2-3 SCC) plays host to Luverne at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Cardinal Gym, while Blue Earth Area (8-4, 3-2) plays host to United South Central on Tuesday night.
Cassidy Krusemark scored 11 points to help guide Fairmont to a 36-27 victory over Blue Earth Area during B-squad action Thursday.
Courtney Mosloski contributed nine points to the Cardinals' winning ways, while Sophie Shelgren and Sydney Glienke chipped in four points each.
Blue Earth Area downed Fairmont, 39-28, during C-squad action on Thursday.
Sophie Brau produced eight points and five rebounds for the Cardinals, Marisa Nelson supplied six points and five boards, while Abby Fitzgerald generated six points, five rebounds and three steals.
North Union 48, Graettinger-Terril/ Ruthven-Ayrshire 28 - Aurora Oliver scored 14 points to gude the Warriors to a 48-28 Corn Belt Conference victory over the Raiders on Friday night in Graettinger, Iowa.
Cheyanne Boland scored 10 points and doled out three assists, while Madison Bollig added eight points in the Warriors' 18-for-48 shooting effort from the floor.
Dena Looft cleaned the glass for six boards, with Jasmine Clausen pulling down five rebounds and making five steals for the Warriors.
The Warriors made 11 of 21 free throws in the win.
North Union (10-5, 5-1 Corn Belt) hosts Clay Central-Everly in a 6 p.m. game on Monday in Armstrong.