Tiger cagers squeeze past Cardinals, 54-48

Fairmont's boys coast to 65-34 win over MCW

ONE-HANDED RUNNER — Fairmont guard Lexi Lunn fires up a one-handed runner after driving around Marshall power forward Hannah Meier (left) during Big South Conference basketball action Tuesday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Fairmont guard Brooke Hunwardsen (5) delivered the assist to Lunn on the play. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — When asked if he’d ever coached a girls basketball team as small, height-wise, as this season’s Tigers lineup, Marshall head coach Dan Westby joked, “I’ve never even seen a team this small, let alone coach one.”

Westby’s Tigers, however, proved that good things come in small packages — in this case, 5-foot-8 freshman forward Jordyn Hilgemann and 5-5 sophomore guard Lenei Estrada — during Tuesday night’s Big South clash against Fairmont at Cardinal Gym.

Hilgemann scored 13 of her co-game-high 18 points during the Tigers’ 32-24 second-half comeback, while Estrada finished with 15 points to rally Marshall from a two-point halftime deficit to a 54-48 win over the vastly-improved Cardinals.

“We (coaching staff) knew that Fairmont’s size would be an issue coming into tonight’s game,” Westby said in reference to the Cardinals’ towering frontline — 6-2 Alli Lardy and the 6-0 trio of Taylor Crissinger, Brenna Cutler and Claire Cutler. “I thought Fairmont really did a good job of taking advantage of that factor during the first half.”

Indeed. Westby’s analysis proved as accurate as Lardy’s 8-for-10 field-goal shooting performance en route to a game-leading double-double of 18 points and 17 rebounds. Lardy and Fairmont dominated the boards by a 26-13 margin and broke Marshall’s full-court press with relative ease to earn a 24-22 halftime edge.

“Our goals were to reduce our turnovers, and figure out how to handle their pressure at the same time, and we did a good job of throwing over the top of it (full-court press),” said Fairmont head coach Sara Junkermeier. “Our girls demonstrated patience, and didn’t commit many turnovers (five) during the first half.

“We did a better job of taking care of the basketball at the offensive end, too.”

Lardy did exactly that by converting the first of Maggy Totzke’s three assists into a low-post lay-in before Brooke Hunwardsen spotted Totzke for a left-wing 3-pointer to trigger the Cardinals’ 7-0 run after building an early 7-5 lead.

Lardy hit a putback before Hilgemann engineered the Tigers’ countering 8-0 surge.

“We shot poorly to start the game,” Westby said in reference to Marshall’s 0-for-7 field-goal drought during the conference clash’s first 5 minutes.

Hilgemann’s one-and-one conversion, traditional 3-point play off a baseline drive and Estrada’s left-wing trey off one of Hilgemann’s four assists clawed the Tigers within 14-13 with 5 minutes left in the first half.

Lardy then single-handedly matched Marshall power forward Hannah Meier, Estrada and Abby Wendorff point-for-point to generate three of the first half’s four ties with less than 2 minutes remaining.

Lardy cleaned the offensive glass for a putback before spotting Crissinger for a right-elbow 15-footer to stake the Cardinals to a 24-20 lead with 11 seconds left, but Estrada would have the final word of the opening half. Marshall’s hard-working guard hit a baseline follow shot just before the halftime horn to whittle the gap to two at intermission.

Hilgemann, who made just 1 of 9 field goals during the first half, scorched the nets during the second half by sinking 5 of 9, including a 3-pointer, to trigger the Tigers’ 10-3 surge out of the lockerroom.

Lexi Lunn and Totzke later served as the Cardinals’ catalysts behind a 6-0 run that produce the fifth of six ties on the game at 34-all with 11:21 left in regulation. Lunn converted a Totzke assist into a left-wing 17-footer, Brenna Cutler spun in the low post for a basket off a Crissinger entry feed and Lunn scooped home a driving leaner to highlight the offensive outburst.

Kaia Sueker, the Tigers’ 5-1 point guard, drilled a clutch 3 to snap the tie before Claire Cutler sank two free throws to keep the Cardinals within one at 37-36.

Lardy’s putback and Lunn’s right-wing 3 off a Claire Cutler skip pass later swung a 41-40 lead to Fairmont with 7:45 left. Hannah Meier, who delivered a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, sank a solo free throw before Hilgemann’s steal-turned-assist to Estrada regained a 43-41 margin for Marshall.

Claire Cutler spotted Lardy for a traditional 3-point play to reclaim a one-point edge for the Cardinals with 7 minutes to go before the Tigers closed out the comeback win with a game-ending 11-4 surge, with all but two points coming at the free throw line.

Fairmont (7-5) travels to Class 3A, No. 10-ranked Waseca on Thursday night, while Marshall (10-3) hits the road to Hill-Murray on Saturday for a 4:30 p.m. non-league tipoff.

Marshall 22-32–54

Fairmont 24-24–48

FAIRMONT (48)

Crissinger 2-8 3-6 7, Hunwardsen 0-1 0-0 0, Lardy 8-10 2-4 18, Lunn 4-7 1-2 11, Totzke 2-4 0-0 6, B. Cutler 1-8 1-2 3, C. Cutler 0-4 2-2 2, Tonder 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 17-43 10-18 48.

MARSHALL (54)

H. Meier 4-9 3-6 11, Hilgemann 6-18 5-6 18, Andries 1-3 0-0 2, Estrada 5-10 3-4 15, Sueker 1-7 1-4 4, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, E. Meier 0-1 1-2 1, Wendorff 1-2 0-0 2, Toulouse 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 18-51 14-24 54.

3-pointers: Fairmont 4-9 (Lunn 2-4, Totzke 2-4, Crissinger 0-1); Marshall 4-14 (Estrada 2-3, Sueker 1-5, Hilgemann 1-5, Jones 0-1). Fouled out: B. Cutler, Andries and Lunn. Rebounds: Fairmont 37 (Lardy 17, Crissinger 9); Marshall 27 (H. Meier 11). Assists: Fairmont 12 (Hunwardsen, Claire Cutler and Totzke 3 each); Marshall 12 (Hilgemann and Estrada 4 each). Steals: Marshall 13 (Hilgemann and Estrada 4 each); FHS 5.

Marshall posted a 45-34 victory over Fairmont during B-squad action Tuesday night.

Bryn Miller and Kylee Harder scored eight points apiece to top the Cardinals, while Chloe Murphy contributed six points.

Marshall edged Fairmont, 29-27, during C-squad action Tuesday night.

Natalie Tonne delivered 15 points to top the Cardinals (8-2).

Martin County West 48, Nicollet/ Mankato Loyola 39 — Alyssa Williamson and Madison Klima combined to sink seven 3-pointers to help steer the Mavericks to a nine-point Valley Conference victory over the Raiders on Tuesday night in Nicollet.

Williamson drained three trifectas to pace her 15-point performance, while Klima connected on four treys to top her 12-point effort.

Renae Eckmann produced 12 points and eight rebounds for MCW, Maia Taylor distributed four assists and garnered eight boards, while Karlee Thiesse supplied five points and seven rebounds in the win.

Martin County West (9-2) plays Pine Island at 11 a.m. Saturday in Hayfield.

Boys Basketball

Fairmont 65, Martin County West 34 — The Cardinals stormed out to a 48-11 halftime lead and never looked back en route to a 31-point nonconference triumph over the Mavericks on Tuesday night in Trimont.

Derek Missling neared double-double territory by grabbing nine rebounds to complement an 11-point performance that topped a balanced Fairmont offensive attack.

Brady Allen also approached double-double numbers with nine points and nine rebounds in the Cardinals’ win, while Sam Schwieger scored 10 points and distributed three assists. Lucas Denney supplied 10 points and five boards for Fairmont, while Nate Kallenbach chipped in six points, five assists and three steals.

The Cardinals made 25 of 58 field goals, including 6 of 22 from 3-point range, and 9 of 19 free throws on the game.

Cam Dressen scored 14 points, including 12 in the second half, to top the Mavericks. Logan Ebeling and Wyatt Geistfeld contributed eight and seven points, respectively.

The Mavericks hit 12 of 38 field goals, including 6 of 12 behind the arc, and 10 of 14 free throws on the night.

Fairmont (9-3) travels to Waseca on Friday night, while Martin County West (4-6) hosts Alden-Conger on Thursday night in Trimont.

Dan Betts produced 13 points and six rebounds to guide Fairmont to a 48-33 victory over Martin County West during B-squad action Tuesday night.

Jack Hested netted 13 points for the Cardinals, Zach Jorgensen tallied seven points and six rebounds, while Joey Flohrs scored six.

St. Peter 67, Blue Earth Area 53 — Owen Little netted a game-high 21 points and Wyatt Olson contributed 17 points to pace the Saints’ 14-point Big South victory over the Bucs on Tuesday night in Blue Earth.

Caelan Sanders scored 12 points to top BEA, Cameron Anderson delivered 11 points, Carter Bell tallied nine and Jacob Vaske chipped in eight points.

Austin Thielfoldt collected five points, five steals and five assists for Blue Earth Area (3-7), which hosts New Ulm on Friday night.

Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire 72, North Union 43 — The Titans built a 41-20 halftime lead and never trailed en route to the 29-point Top of Iowa Conference win over the Warriors on Tuesday night in Armstrong.

Riley Bauer scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds to top North Union, while Robert Ortman generated nine points. Noah Morphew and Hunter Pierce each netted six points for the Warriors, who made 14 of 47 field goals, including 11 of 25 from 2-point range, and 12 of 17 free throws on the game.

North Union (2-9) travels to Buffalo Center, Iowa, Friday night to play North Iowa.

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