FAIRMONT - Kristen Campe's shooting accuracy from near and far, combined with teammate Kayla Lardy's all-around arsenal, staked the Fairmont basketball team to a six-point halftime lead over Blue Earth Area on Tuesday night.
The hometown Cardinals then utilized an efficient trapping defense during the second half to more than double their final margin of victory over the Bucs at Cardinal Gym.
Campe finished with a team-best 17 points, while Lardy produced 10 points, six rebounds and five steals to engineer Fairmont's 49-36 South Central Conference triumph over Blue Earth Area.
USING THE SCREEN — Fairmont guard Sierra Schultz (right) drives to the basket as Blue Earth Area’s Jenna Stevermer works around Fairmont power forward Alex Christianson’s screen during South Central Conference basketball action Tuesday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Photo by Leanna Becker
"(Assistant coach Sara) Junkermeier wanted to switch to a halfcourt trap during the second half and it proved very effective," said Cardinal head coach Don Waletich, whose roster reached the .500 mark overall - 12-12 - after starting the season with a 2-9 record.
Trailing 5-2 on the heels of back-to-back baskets by Buc power forward Krista Hassing, Campe drained the first of her three 3-pointers on the night to draw the Cardinals even on the scoreboard.
"Kristen Campe continues to shoot the ball well for us as the season progresses," Waletich said in reference to his junior sharpshooter's 7-for-11 performance from the Cardinal Gym hardwood.
Hassing, who delivered game-highs of 20 points and seven rebounds, later tossed in two of her 10 free throws on the game to help Blue Earth Area knot the score at 13-all.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Lardy and Sierra Schultz triggered an ensuing 8-2 run during the final 5 minutes of the opening half to help Fairmont carry a 21-15 lead into the lockerroom.
Lardy hit a putback basket before Schultz banked home 2-pointers around a Buc timeout at the 4:11 juncture. Schultz and Emily Kim executed a perfect screen-and-cut play out of the short recess before Hassing countered off of Taylor Grandgenett's inbound assist.
Campe, however, swooshed a long-range 2-pointer from the top of the key with 45 seconds remaining to swing a six-point lead to the red-and-white.
Campe drilled another trifecta to open the floodgates during the second half before Lardy generated seven consecutive points, including a traditional 3-point play off a high-low pass from Alex Christianson, to widen the gap to 31-19.
Hassing kept the Bucs within striking distance via two free throws and a traditional 3-point play before teammate Kaitlyn Olsen reached the scoring column on a trey.
Olsen, who tallied nine points, followed two more Hassing charity tosses with a baseline runner to trim Blue Earth Area's deficit to 38-33 with 6 minutes remaining.
Fairmont's trap, however, created three consecutive Buc turnovers as Campe triggered the Cardinals' ensuing 8-0 surge to restore a double-figure lead.
Christianson maneuvered the baseline for a leaner before converting a one-and-one situation before Schultz pocketed the loose basketball during a baseline scrum and banked in the baseliner to cap a 46-33 margin.
Christianson finished with nine points for the Cardinals, Schultz contributed six points and five boards, while Madison Geerdes chipped in five points.
Jenna Stevermer added five points for the Bucs.
Fairmont (12-12, 6-4 SCC) opens Section 3AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal action by playing host to Jackson County Central at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Cardinal Gym.
Blue Earth Area (13-8, 5-4) travels to St. Peter on Friday night for another conference game.