FAIRMONT - Don Waletich opted for a 1-3-1 zone in place of his usual man-to-man defense and the strategy paid postseason dividends.
Fairmont's realignment caused Jackson County Central to make only 18 percent of its field goals, including an 0-for-28 span bridging intermission, during Saturday night's Section 3AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal basketball game at Cardinal Gym.
Junior center Kayla Lardy posted a game-high double-double performance of 14 points and 18 rebounds to complement four steals, while junior guard Kristen Campe scored 12 points to guide the No. 3-seeded Cardinals to a 56-35 triumph over the No. 6-seeded Huskies in Fairmont.
BOARDWORK — Fairmont’s Alex Christianson (35) outleaps Jackson County Central’s Marita Rasche (11) and Angela Handzus to grab a rebound during Section 3AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal basketball action on Saturday. Fairmont’s Emily Kim (3) and Kayla Lardy (left) look on. Photo by Leanna Becker
Fairmont (13-12) advances to face No. 2-seeded Martin County West (21-4) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the South Sub-Section semifinals in St. James. The Mavericks reached the second round via a 56-44 victory over Pipestone Area.
Jackson County Central ended its season with an 8-18 record.
"I thought our defensive rebounding was excellent tonight," Waletich said in reference to his Cardinals limiting the Huskies to six offensive boards per half. "We didn't give them too many second chances, and that was key."
Sierra Schultz not only contributed to Fairmont's 44-32 rebounding edge, but the sophomore point guard literally put the red-and-white's offense in motion to build an early 10-2 lead in the first-round playoff clash.
"Sierra did a nice job of using her dribble penetration to find the open girl on offense, while Tracy Thiesse really helped out on the defensive end tonight," said Waletich. "Emily Kim also gave us a spark off the bench."
Kim delivered three pivotal points of her seven on the game on the heels of two Lardy free throws to keep the Huskies at bay. After Kaylee Burmeister's 3-pointer helped inch JCC within 20-16, Lardy worked the lane to earn a trip to the line before Kim drilled a trifecta off one of Schultz's game-high five assists during the ensuing series.
Lardy, Campe and Kim later combined equally for a 6-0 run during the final 1:26 of the first half to extend the Cardinals' lead to 31-18 by intermission.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, they would not connect for a field goal during the second half until Brooke Klontz banked home a right-wing 3-pointer at the 4:28 juncture.
Campe, Schultz, Alex Christianson, Thiesse, Courtney Mosloski and Madison Geerdes all delivered baskets to engineer Fairmont's incredible 17-3 offensive avalanche during JCC's field goal-less stretch of 13 1/2 minutes.
Schultz supplied solid all-around numbers of seven points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals to the Cardinals' winning ways, while Geerdes chipped in six points off the bench.
Burmeister generated 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Huskies, while Sarah Brandt pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds.
Martin County West 56, Pipestone Area 44 - Point guard Morgan Williamson netted a game-high 14 points to pace a balanced scoring attack as the No. 2-seeded Mavericks posted a 12-point playoff victory over the No. 7-seeded Arrows on Saturday night in Trimont.
Martin County West (21-4) advances to face No. 2-seeded Fairmont (13-12) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Section 3AA, South Sub-Section semifinals in St. James.
Williamson also pocketed four steals for the Mavericks, while teammate Madyson Larson contributed 12 points and three steals to the winning performance.
Kate Thiesse delivered eight points, seven boards and four steals for MCW; Reilly Geistfeld netted seven points and six rebounds; Taryn Tumbleson scored seven points; while Hailey Leiding chipped in six points.
The Mavericks made 20 of 50 field goals for 40 percent, while sinking 14 of 25 free throws on the game.
Amanda Haupert scored 13 points and teammate Anneka Bucher netted 12 points for Pipestone Area, which ended its season with a 2-22 record.