Jaguar hoopsters sink FTs, Cardinals
FAIRMONT — The mid-season girls basketball showdown between the Fairmont Cardinals and Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther Jaguars proved a back-and-forth classic on Saturday night at Cardinal Gym.
The Cardinals and Jaguars battled to nine ties before Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther broke the last deadlock by erupting for a pivotal 15-0 run with 10:30 remaining in the second half.
Post powers Hanna Geistfeld and Kenlie Pytleski each produced double-double performances to top a balanced scoring attack to propel the Jaguars to a 68-57 nonconference victory over the hard-pressing Cardinals in Fairmont.
“We moved the ball well offensively and had a good shot selection during the first half,” Fairmont head coach Don Waletich said in reference to his lineup’s 14-for-31 field-goal shooting, including a blistering 5 of 7 from 3-point range, to build a 35-30 halftime lead. “We really hit a wall for about five and a half minutes midway through the second half though.
“You turn the ball over seven times and don’t hit a shot during that length of time, it’s difficult to come away with a win.”
After Claire Cutler hit a putback basket to draw Fairmont even at 45-all, sharpshooter Alexis Brummond made her presence felt to trigger the Jaguars’ game-changing surge in the second half after the senior guard picked up her second foul at the 12:10 juncture of the first half.
“We (coaching staff) wanted three things out of the girls in the second half. One, we needed to pick up our defensive intensity. Two, we needed to limit them (the Cardinals) to one shot per trip down the court, and three, we needed to be stronger at the offensive end,” said Jaguars head coach Rick Uttech.
Brummond drilled a 3-pointer to serve as the purple-and-white’s second-half catalyst off one of Pytleski’s three assists before Brummond distributed one of her team-best five assists to Hannah Johanson for an inbound lay-in for a 50-45 lead at the 9:10 juncture.
Geistfeld, who finished with a game-high 24 points to complement 10 boards, powered through the paint for a runner out of the Cardinals’ timeout before Macy Quinn hit a solo free throw.
Brummond then fed Geistfeld for a traditional 3-point play to force another Fairmont timeout with an 11-point lead with 7:15 remaining.
Geistfeld added two free throws before spotting Pytleski — who finished with 11 points and a game-best 13 rebounds — for a baseline leaner.
Abby DeWitt, who neared double-double territory by scoring nine points to complement a game-high seven assists, banked home a layup off one of Brooke Hunwardsen’s game-best five steals to finally end the Cardinals’ scoring drought at 60-47 at the 5:05 mark.
Hunwardsen, who netted 14 points, joined forces with DeWitt, Lexi Lunn and Brenna Cutler to apply full-court pressure, but the Jaguars answered by connecting on 6 of 6 free throws during the final two minutes to preserve their 11-point win.
The Jaguars executed Uttech’s game plan by making more free throws (18 out of 22) than the Cardinals attempted — 14, making 10 — on the game.
Taylor Crissinger neared double-double territory for Fairmont by scoring 15 of her team-best 17 points during the opening half to go with a team-high nine rebounds. Crissinger drained all three of her treys during the first 18 minutes of action.
Johanson produced 13 points and eight rebounds for the Jaguars, while the backcourt tandem of Quinn and Brummond finished with 11 and nine points, respectively.
Fairmont (7-5) travels to Marshall on Tuesday night for a Big South Conference clash. Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther (10-2) plays host to Heron Lake-Okabena tonight in Northrop.
Hunwardsen 5-11 2-2 14, Crissinger 7-20 0-2 17, B. Cutler 1-3 3-4 5, DeWitt 4-6 1-2 9, Lunn 2-11 4-4 8, C. Cutler 2-5 0-0 4, Mosloski 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 10-14 57.
Pytleski 2-10 7-8 11, Johanson 5-14 2-2 13, Geistfeld 9-17 6-7 24, Quinn 3-6 3-4 11, Brummond 3-6 0-1 9, Cegelske 0-1 0-0 0, Becker 0-2 0-0 0, Wallace 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-56 18-22 68.
3-pointers: GHECTML 6-18 (Brummond 3-6, Quinn 2-5, Johanson 1-5, Cegelske 0-1, Becker 0-1); Fairmont 5-12 (Crissinger 3-4, Hunwardsen 2-5, Lunn 0-2, B. Cutler 0-1). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: GHECTML 38 (Pytleski 13, Geistfeld 10); Fairmont 26 (Crissinger 9). Assists: GHECTML 12 (Brummond 5, Pytleski 3); Fairmont 10 (DeWitt 7). Steals: Fairmont 14 (Hunwardsen 5, Crissinger 3); GHECTML 7 (Brummond 3).
Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/ Martin Luther downed Fairmont, 52-36, during B-squad action Saturday in Fairmont.
Chloe Murphy scored nine points to top the Cardinals, while teammates Jen Moeller and Kylee Harder contributed eight points each.