Cardinals twist by Cyclones in KT/BLC hoops invite

UP, UP & OVER — Fairmont’s Brady Allen (5) elevates and triggers a jumpshot over St. Clair’s Alex Eilertson (55) during first-round basketball action in the KwikTrip/Bethany Lutheran College Holiday Invite on Wednesday night in Mankato. Fairmont’s Derek Missling (24), Wyatt Quiring (3) and Garrett Myren (front), along with St. Clair’s Mitchell Weber (25), watch the play. (Photo by Greg Abel)

MANKATO — It was a simple formula — call timeout with 19.9 seconds remaining and trailing by three, convert a rare 4-point play, steal the opponent’s pass and sink two free throws with a tenth of a second remaining.

“What happened in the final 19 seconds was not what we drew up on the board,” Fairmont head boys basketball coach Jared Thompson said in reference to his Cardinals’ 54-51 cardiac comeback win over the St. Clair Cyclones in the opening round of the KwikTrip/Bethany Lutheran College Holiday Tournament on Wednesday night in Mankato.

Trailing 51-48 on the heels of Cyclones post player Mitchell Weber’s one-and-one conversion at the 26-second mark, the Cardinals worked the basketball across halfcourt before Thompson called timeout six-plus seconds later to set up the late heroics.

“It was an inside-out 3-pointer,” Thompson said. “St. Clair sealed off most of our passing options, but Nate (Kallenbach) popped out to an open spot, had a great look, took the pass from Brady (Allen), hit the 3 and drew the foul.”

Kallenbach, who’s still recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered in the Class 3A state football quarterfinals on Nov. 11, sank the ensuing free throw for the unusual 4-point play to stake the Cardinals to a 52-51 lead with 17.8 seconds to go.

Allen, who proved a one-man wrecking crew by producing a game-best double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds to complement four assists, then pocketed his only steal of the tournament game at the most critical moment.

Allen flipped the basketball upcourt to Sam Schwieger, who swooshed both free throws with a tenth of a second showing on the scoreboard to seal Fairmont’s incredible comeback victory over St. Clair.

Fairmont (7-1), winners of four consecutive games, faces Maple River (5-4) in an 8:30 p.m. semifinal at the North Gym on the Bethany Lutheran campus tonight. Maple River rolled to a 72-50 quarterfinal triumph over Le Sueur-Henderson.

St. Clair (4-4) plays LSH (3-4) in an 8 p.m. consolation semifinal at Younge Gym on the Mankato-based campus.

Minnesota Valley Lutheran (6-1) faces St. Croix Lutheran (5-1) in a 6:30 p.m. championship semifinal at the North Gym tonight. MVL coasted by Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial and St. Croix Lutheran downed previously-unbeaten New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva by 70-52 scores.

“St. Clair’s length caused us problems on both ends,” Thompson said in reference to 6-foot-9 Alex Eilertson, the 6-5 Weber and 6-3 Grant Nagel. “We haven’t seen a zone defense like that for a while either, and we just didn’t shoot (outside) as well as I thought we would (19 of 55 for 35 percent).”

Wyatt Quiring nailed back-to-back 3-pointers before Schwieger chipped in a trey to stake the Cardinals to an 11-7 lead before Cyclones’ eighth-grade phenom guard Devin Embacher answered with a runner and a juke-and-duck-under baseline drive that resulted in a traditional 3-point play and one-point St. Clair lead at the 12:27 juncture.

The two teams traded the lead eight times during the initial 18 minutes before closing the half with its fifth tie at 26-all.

Trailing by two following Brandon Schultz’s second 3-pointer and Eilertson’s free throw, Schwieger distributed one of his four assists to Allen for a right-elbow jumper at the 34-second mark to knot the score.

Nagel, who shared team-high rebounding honors with Weber with seven apiece, erupted for half of his 12 points to open the second half as St. Clair grabbed a 32-28 edge by the 14:26 juncture.

Down 34-29, Schwieger spotted Quiring for his third trey of the night to trigger Fairmont’s ensuing 10-2 surge to regain the lead at 39-36 midway through the second half.

“Brady just hit big shot after big shot for us tonight,” said Thompson. “He battled their bigs and hit from the outside, too.”

Allen sank two free throws before converting a slash-and-scoop runner off Schwieger’s entry pass. Thomas Loeffler hit a putback for the Cyclones only to have Allen cash in another ‘and-1′ play off a Kallenbach assist for a three-point Cardinals’ margin.

Allen later drained his third and final 3 of the contest to swing a 48-47 lead to Fairmont with 1:33 remaining only to watch as Nagel banked in a low-post leaner and Weber converted a one-and-one 41 seconds later for a three-point lead.

Schwieger and Quiring each finished with 11 points for the Cardinals, while Kallenbach contributed six points, four assists and three steals off the bench.

Embacher topped the Cyclones with 14 points, Nagel tallied 12, while Weber and Brandon Schultz each chipped in eight points.

Fairmont 26-28–54

St. Clair 26-25–51

FAIRMONT (54)

Allen 8-17 5-9 24, D. Schultz 1-2 0-2 2, Missling 0-8 0-0 0, Quiring 4-7 0-0 11, Schwieger 4-16 2-2 11, Eversman 0-1 0-0 0, Kallenbach 2-4 1-1 6, Myren 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-55 8-14 54.

ST. CLAIR (51)

Weber 3-8 2-5 8, Nagel 5-5 2-4 12, Embacher 5-10 1-1 14, Schons 0-3 2-2 2, B. Schultz 2-5 2-3 8, Ward 0-1 0-0 0, Eilertson 1-2 1-2 3, Loeffler 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 18-36 10-17 51.

3-pointers: Fairmont 8-25 (Allen 3-7, Quiring 3-6, Schwieger 1-9, Kallenbach 1-2, D. Schultz 0-1); St. Clair 5-12 (Embacher 3-5, B. Schultz 2-3, Weber 0-3, Schons 0-1). Fouled out: Missling. Rebounds: Fairmont 28 (Allen 10, Missling 7); St. Clair 28 (Nagel 7 and Weber 7 each). Assists: Fairmont 15 (Allen, Schwieger and Kallenbach 4 each); St. Clair 11 (Weber, Schons and B. Schultz 3 each). Steals: Fairmont 8; St. Clair 4. Blocked shots: St. Clair 6 (Eilertson 6); Fairmont 3.

Dalen Keltgen netted 15 points to pace a balanced scoring attack as Fairmont rolled to a 73-36 victory over St. Clair during the junior varsity portion of the KwikTrip/Bethany Lutheran College Holiday Invitational on Wednesday in Mankato.

Zach Jorgensen and Wyatt Frank each produced 11 points for the Cardinals, while Garrett Myren chipped in eight points.

Redwood Valley Tour

Lakeview 56, Martin County West 53 — Tate Varpness netted a game-best 19 points to sail the Lakers to a three-point win over the Mavericks during the opening round of the Redwood Valley Holiday Tournament on Wednesday in Redwood Falls.

Jon Wyffels contributed 11 points to the win by Lakeview (5-4), which faces host Redwood Valley in tonight’s 8 p.m. tournament championship game.

Matt Holm produced a team-best 14 points to complement four rebounds and three steals to pace the Mavericks’ performance.

Wyatt Geistfeld tallied a double-double effort of 13 points and 10 rebounds, while teammate Cole Owens generated 12 points and eight boards for MCW (3-4), which plays Benson in a 6:30 p.m. third-place game tonight in Redwood Falls.

Cam Dressen supplied seven points for the Mavericks, who made 13 of 34 shots from 2-point range, 6 of 16 behind the 3-point arc and 9 of 13 at the free throw line.

The Lakers hit 19 of 30 shots from 2-point territory, just 2 of 12 behind the bonus arc and 12 of 24 at the charity stripe.

MCW, which trailed 33-27 at intermission, rallied to outscore Lakeview by a 26-23 margin in the second half.

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