FAIRMONT - St. James' undersized starting lineup utilized its quickness and tenacity to trail Fairmont by a mere six points at halftime on Friday night.
Cardinal mentor Don Waletich and his coaching staff, however, reiterated their pregame speech with extra emphasis during the South Central Conference basketball clash's intermission.
Twin towers Kayla Lardy and Courtney Mosloski heeded their coaches' collective advice to combine for 31 points and 14 rebounds to engineer Fairmont's second-half explosion that capped a 66-44 triumph over St. James at Cardinal Gym.
SCREEN PLAY — Fairmont’s Sierra Schrader (left) drives around Cardinal teammate Alex Christianson’s screen on St. James’ Allison Brandts during South Central Conference basketball action Friday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"We didn't box out and missed a bunch of bunnies (close-range shots) during the first half. Obviously, we used our size advantage during the second half and really fed our posts well tonight," said Waletich, whose lineup produced a 25-19 rebounding edge in the final 18 minutes after getting outboarded 21-14 in the opening half.
Mosloski delivered 12 of her game-high 16 points and pulled down all six of her rebounds during the second half, while Lardy generated 10 of her 15 points.
Ahead 37-31 during the initial stages of the second half, point guard Sierra Schultz garnered a defensive rebound, drove end-to-end and banked home two of her eight points to serve as the Cardinals' catalyst behind an incredible 14-0 surge.
Mosloski and Lardy worked a high-low post play on the ensuing trip, with Lardy hitting the baseline leaner before Kristen Campe spotting Mosloski cutting to the basket for a lay-in.
St. James called timeout and simultaneously drew a technical foul at the 14:08 juncture, and Fairmont capitalized. Lardy sank both free throws before Alex Christianson earned a trip to the line and drained two charity tosses.
Schultz then distributed one of her game-best five assists to Lardy for a slashing baseline leaner before Lardy banked home a cutter off Schultz's inbound toss to extend Fairmont's lead to 51-31 with 12:30 remaining in regulation.
St. James forward Allison Brandts, who produced a double-double performance of 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, hit a solo free throw before Mosloski reeled off eight consecutive points on 4-for-4 field-goal shooting to put the game out of reach at 59-31 with 7 minutes to go.
Julia Beckius, who delivered a team-best 13 points to complement eight rebounds, later converted a traditional 3-point play for the Saints, but it was not enough in the end.
Christianson finished with 10 points and six rebounds for the Cardinals, while Sierra Schrader chipped in seven points off the bench.
Fairmont (9-2, 4-0 SCC) plays host to Granada-Huntley-East Chain at 6 p.m. tonight at Cardinal Gym.
St. James (2-6, 0-4) plays host to Windom Area on Tuesday night.
Marisa Nelson scored 11 points, including a clutch 3-pointer during the late stages of the game, to guide Fairmont to a 41-39 victory over St. James during B-squad action Friday night in Fairmont.
Larissa Becker supplied seven points for the Cardinals, Sophie Brau collected six rebounds and six steals, while Abby Fitzgerald chipped in four points and five boards. Emily Kloeckner and Marissa Voss added four points each.
Fairmont (2-8) plays host to Redwood Valley on Tuesday night.
Brooke Hunwardsen netted 12 points and pocketed seven steals to engineer Fairmont's 46-30 win over St. James during C-squad action on Friday night in Fairmont.
Alli Lardy and Taylor Crissinger each contributed eight points and three rebounds to the Cardinals' winning ways, while Lexi Lunn chipped in six points and four steals.
Martin County West 75, Martin Luther 43 - The Mavericks scored 51 first-half points to outpace the Knights 75-43 during Valley Conference basketball action on Friday night in Northrop.
Maverick junior Taryn Tumbleson scored a game-high 18 points in addition to pocketing five steals.
Reilly Geistfeld scored 13 points for the Maverick offense that featured 10 scorers. Kate Thiesse swiped eight steals, while Morgan Larson made four steals in addition to distributing five assists for MCW.
McKenna Taylor grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds for the Mavericks.
Amber Schulz topped the Knights' offensive effort with 15 points on the game. Alexis Brummond added nine points, while Kayley Shoen grabbed eight rebounds for Martin Luther.
The Knights made 16 of 45 attempts from the floor, while swishing 9 of 15 free throws.
Martin County West (7-1) plays host to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in a Valley Conference game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Sherburn.
Martin Luther (2-5) plays host to Granada-Huntley-East Chain in a conference game on Thursday night in Northrop.
Martin Co. West 51-24-75
Martin Luther 24-14-43
St. Peter 57, Blue Earth Area 31 - The Saints held the Bucs to 13 second-half points in a 57-31 South Central Conference win on Friday night in St. Peter.
Jenna Stevermer scored a team-leading 16 points, in addition to grabbing five rebounds to pace the Bucs' efforts.
Kaitlyn Olsen added six points and grabbed six boards for the Bucs, while Shayna Stevermer tallied four points and pulled down six rebounds.
Paige Darrington generated five points, while Karli Olsen snagged four boards for Blue Earth Area.
The Bucs made 7 of 9 free throw attempts in the game.
Blue Earth Area (3-4, 1-2 SCC) plays host to Medford in a nonconference game on Thursday night in Blue Earth.
Alden-Conger 63, Granada-Huntley-East Chain 59 - The Knights corralled the Mustangs with a 63-59 Valley Conference victory on Friday night in East Chain.
Karina Skov scored a game-high 24 points to pace the Knights, while the visitors grabbed 20 rebounds in the win.
Rachel Shumski scored a team-leading 18 points and grabbed seven boards to top the Mustang offense.
Emily Zaharia and Kenlie Pytleski each added double-digit totals of 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Mariah Jensen doled out four assists, while Brooke McDonald snared 10 boards for GHEC.
The Mustangs made 25 of 52 shots from the floor, while making 3 of 4 free throw attempts.
The Knights made 23 of 50 shooting attempts, while swishing 7 of 18 tosses from the charity stripe.
Granada-Huntley-East Chain (3-3, 3-2 Valley) travels to Fairmont tonight for a 6 p.m. tipoff at Cardinal Gym.