Fairmont downs Martin Co. West in sectional quarterfinals

UP FOR GRABS — Fairmont center Wyatt Frank (middle) battles Martin County West’s Zach Anderson (24) and Wyatt Geistfeld (right) for control of the basketball following a double block during Section 3AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal action Saturday night in Sherburn. Frank went on to produce 22 points and 17 rebounds to guide the Cardinals to a 64-52 playoff win. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

SHERBURN — Wyatt Frank has made great strides in improving his overall game since the last time he and his Fairmont basketball teammates faced Martin County West on Jan. 4 at Cardinal Gym.

The 6-foot-7 Frank produced game-best totals of 22 points and 17 rebounds, while point guard Nick Eversman neared double-double territory to power the No. 5-seeded Cardinals to a 64-52 Section 3AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal victory over the No. 4-seeded Mavericks on Saturday night in Sherburn.

Fairmont (13-13), which has won seven of its last nine games, advances to face No. 1-seeded St. James Area (16-8) in a 6 p.m. sub-section semifinal Thursday night in Windom. The Saints survived No. 8 Windom Area’s upset bid, 64-56 in overtime.

“Before the game, coach (Jared) Thompson told us to keep moving the ball and just play our game,” said Frank, who generated just nine points and seven rebounds during the Cardinals’ 59-56 regular-season loss to the Mavericks nearly two months ago.

So, what’s the difference in Frank’s skills set?

“(Assistant) coach (Johnny) Olson has been working with me in practice every day,” said Frank, who’s playing just his second season in the sport. “Now I feel a lot more comfortable getting the ball in the low post.”

Frank’s confidence and ability to finish were evident with 8 minutes remaining in regulation.

Ahead 43-33, the Cardinals watched their lead shrink to just four when Maverick sharpshooter Dawson Weber buried a pair of 3-pointers and teammate Wyatt Geistfeld pocketed a midcourt steal and went the distance for a layup. Joey Flohrs accounted for Fairmont’s only field goal during MCW’s 8-2 surge.

Eversman, who finished with nine points and a game-best 10 assists, and Frank, however, combined for 14 points of the Cardinals’ momentum-shifting 15-0 run that put the game out of reach at 60-41 with 3 minutes to go.

“No one is playing better now than Nick Eversman,” said Thompson. “He’s figured out where he fits in on the floor, and has distributed the ball so well during our last nine games. It doesn’t hurt that we hit eight 3s tonight either.”

Pete Ortega and Flohrs came off the Cardinals’ bench to connect for half of the team’s six first-half treys, while Eversman, Dustin Schultz and Jack Hested made one 3 apiece en route to a 31-24 lead at intermission.

Geistfeld scored eight of his team-best 17 points and pulled down half of his eight rebounds, while Angel Reyes poured in 14 of his 15 points — including both of the Mavericks’ first-half 3s — during the contest’s initial 18 minutes to keep the home team within striking distance.

Fairmont’s late second-half run, however, put an end to MCW’s outstanding season at 16-7.

Schultz netted 11 points and doled out four assists for the Cardinals, while Hested finished with seven points.

Geistfeld produced a game-best six blocked shots, distributed three assists and pocketed three steals to complement his near double-double performance of 17 points and eight boards, while Weber finished with 13 points.

No. 2 seed Jackson County Central (17-9) plays No. 3 seed Pipestone Area (14-11) in Thursday night’s 7:30 p.m. South Sub-Section semifinal in Windom. JCC fended off No. 7 seed Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, 72-66, while Pipestone Area downed No. 6 seed Luverne, 55-44.

Fairmont 31-33–64

MCW 24-28–52

FAIRMONT (64)

Schultz 4-8 1-4 11, Hested 2-9 1-4 7, Frank 10-17 2-8 22, Jorgensen 1-3 2-2 4, Eversman 2-3 4-6 9, P. Ortega 2-3 0-0 6, Flohrs 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 23-47 10-24 64.

MCW (52)

Geistfeld 7-14 3-5 17, Larson 2-4 0-1 4, Weber 5-11 0-0 13, Reyes 5-8 3-5 15, Beseke 0-1 1-2 1, Anderson 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Anthonisen 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-41 7-13 52.

3-pointers: Fairmont 8-19 (P. Ortega 2-3, Schultz 2-3, Hested 2-9, Flohrs 1-2, Eversman 1-1, Jorgensen 0-1); Martin County West 5-12 (Weber 3-8, Reyes 2-3, Beseke 0-1). Fouled out: Larson (MCW). Rebounds: Fairmont 34 (Frank 17); MCW 20 (Geistfeld 8). Assists: Fairmont 15 (Eversman 10, Schultz 4); MCW 6 (Geistfeld 3). Steals: MCW 6 (Geistfeld 3); Fairmont 5. Blocked shots: Geistfeld (MCW) 6; Frank (F) 3.

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