FAIRMONT - Fairmont's persistent pounding of the paint by its post players produced pivotal points in the second half of Friday night's basketball clash at Cardinal Gym.
Senior center Kayla Lardy triggered the hometown Cardinals' key 16-2 scoring surge, while junior power forward Alex Christianson capped it to engineer a 43-31 South Central Conference victory over the Waseca Bluejays in Fairmont.
"We were getting the shots we wanted during the first half - we just couldn't get many of them to fall," Fairmont assistant coach Sara Junkermeier said in reference to her lineup's 7-for-30 shooting performance during the opening 18 minutes. "In the second half though, I thought we had a better flow on offense and started hitting on our looks inside."
HAMMERED — Waseca center Kirstin Simmons hammers Fairmont’s Courtney Mosloski (45) as Mosloski shoots a jumper during South Central Conference basketball action Friday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Kayla Lardy (53) and the Bluejays’ Jordan Paulson (25) watch the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Junkermeier's postgame analysis proved even more accurate than the Cardinals' vastly-improved shooting effort in the second half - 9 of 22 for 41 percent.
"Sierra Schultz did a nice job of driving into the lane and finding our post players in the low blocks," Junkermeier said in reference to Fairmont's 5-foot-9 point guard's game-high five assists.
After Christianson, who neared double-double territory by collecting 15 points and nine rebounds to go with four steals, sank a pair of free throws at the 15-second juncture to stake the Cardinals to a 22-16 halftime edge, forward Katie Tlusty triggered the Bluejays' second-half comeback.
Tlusty sank the front end of a two-shot foul situation for one of her game-best 16 points before garnering one of her game-high nine steals. Tlusty fed Emily Karsten for a layup before center Kirsten Simmons's two charity tosses whittled Waseca's deficit to 23-21 with 14:55 left in the second half.
Christianson and the Bluejays' Breanna Karsten traded baskets before Lardy's putback banker triggered the momentum-changing 16-2 offensive surge.
Lardy, who delivered a double-double of 13 points and a game-best 16 rebounds to complement five blocked shots, and Courtney Mosloski followed with solo free throws before Schultz nailed a pull-up 6-footer in traffic.
Schultz then spotted Mosloski along the baseline for a 14-foot jumper to extend the Cardinals' edge to double figures at 33-23 and forced the Bluejays to call timeout at the 8:08 mark.
Tlusty responded out of the short break by garnering a steal and driving end-to-end for the lay-in before Lardy and Christianson answered with a 1-2 low-post punch.
Lardy banked home a runner in the lane before Schultz threaded the needle to Lardy for a low-post leaner. Mosloski then spotted Christianson along the baseline for a gliding bank shot before Sierra Schrader delivered an assist to Christianson for a basket to extend Fairmont's lead to 41-25 with 4 minutes remaining in regulation.
Mikayla Rolling and Tlusty countered with back-to-back 3-pointers down the stretch for Waseca, but it was not enough to trigger a late comeback.
Fairmont (14-3, 6-0 SCC) plays host to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial on Tuesday night, while Waseca (6-7, 3-3) plays host to Albert Lea on Monday night in a rescheduled game.
Waseca downed Fairmont in B-squad action, 36-28, on Friday night in Fairmont.
Marisa Nelson collected 15 points and five rebounds to top the Cardinals, Emily Kloeckner generated five steals and five boards, while Sophie Brau chipped in five rebounds.
Waseca edged Fairmont, 31-30, during C-squad action Friday night in Fairmont.
Claire Cutler netted eight points and seven rebounds to pace the Cardinals, while Alli Lardy supplied six points and five boards.
Taylor Crissinger tallied four points and four rebounds, Brooke Hunwardsen made five steals, while Lexi Lunn chipped in four steals.
Waseca 69, Fairmont 53 - Sophomore guard Nick Dufault delivered a game-high 34 points to guide the Class 2A, No. 10-ranked Bluejays to a 16-point South Central Conference victory over the Cardinals on Friday night in Waseca.
Center Devin Williamson supplied 14 points for Waseca, which built a 37-22 lead over Fairmont by halftime.
Josh Eversman scored 19 points to top the Cardinals' effort, while Mitch Pfingsten neared double-double territory by scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds to complement four assists.
Jay Ruen supplied eight points and four boards for Fairmont, Taylor Beebe netted seven points and three assists, while Ben Abel added eight rebounds and four assists.
The Cardinals made 20 of 63 shots from 2-point range for 32 percent, only 7 of 31 from 3-point distance for 23 percent and just 6 of 14 at the free throw line for 43 percent.
Fairmont (13-3, 5-2 SCC) plays host to Blue Earth Area at 7:30 p.m. next Friday night at Cardinal Gym.
Waseca (13-2, 5-1) plays Minneapolis Washburn at 5:15 p.m. today in Owatonna.
Fairmont defeated Waseca in B-squad action, 56-44, on Friday night in Waseca.
Tyler Tennyson sank four 3-pointers to pace his 14-point effort for the Cardinals and also distributed five assists.
Walker Tordsen scored 15 points and pulled down five rebounds for Fairmont, while Kale Fritz chipped in nine points.