FAIRMONT - Levi Becker banked home the tiebreaking and game-winning jumpshot at the buzzer to propel Fairmont to a 79-77 non-league basketball triumph over Luverne on Friday night at Cardinal Gym.
Becker, who wears No. 33, capped a frenetic night dominated by the number three, including a total of 24 3-pointers made by the two sets of Cardinals, during a clash of Section 3AA opponents in Fairmont.
Even more ironic, Fairmont sophomore guard Mitch Pfingsten and Luverne senior guard Brandon Klein - who wear their respective teams' No. 3 jersey - each utilized the 3-point arc to clear the 30-point scoring barrier.
LEANER — Fairmont’s Levi Becker (33) elevates and leans in before firing a jumpshot over Luverne’s Devin Heitkamp (10) during non-league hoops action Friday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. FHS’ Kevin Hanson (43) and Michael Forster (15), along with LHS’ Brett Heronimus (23) and Josh Slieter (24), box out. (Photo by Kjersten Baxter)
Pfingsten erupted for a career-best 37 points on the strength of a 15-for-19 shooting performance, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range. Pfingsten topped his previous career-best of 35, and finished just four points shy of former FHS standout Jeff Janssen's single-game school scoring mark of 41.
Meanwhile, Klein made all five of his 3-point attempts to pace a 9-for-12 overall field-goal shooting effort to complement a flawless 11-for-11 free throw-shooting performance en route to a Luverne-best 34 points.
"It came down to whoever had the ball last," said Fairmont mentor Jared Thompson, whose lineup of sharpshooters scorched the Cardinal Gym nets on 31 of 50 overall shots from the floor for a staggering 62 percent, including 10 of 20 from behind the arc. "How many times do you see a team make 14 of 17 from 3-point range and lose the game?"
Indeed. Luverne blistered the nets for 82 percent from trifecta territory - including a 6-for-7 effort from Devin Heitkamp - en route to 26-for-48 overall shooting for 54 percent.
"It was a game of big runs, back and forth, and Levi hit the winner for us," said Thompson.
After Heitkamp drilled a 3 off a Klein assist to knot the game at 75 with one minute remaining in regulation, Michael Forster drove the lane for a left-handed runner to swing a 77-75 lead back to Fairmont with 37 seconds to go.
The 5-foot-9 Mercurial Klein then drove the lane, elevated and hit an off-balanced deuce to tie the game at 77 with 22.2 seconds remaining.
Luverne opted to record its sixth personal foul during Fairmont's inbound play out of the visiting Cardinals' timeout.
Thompson called timeout with 6.8 seconds remaining to discuss strategy. Luverne prevented Fairmont from getting the basketball to Pfingsten, but Becker drove the left wing and fired a 14-footer off the window to beat the buzzer and the visiting Cardinals by two.
"This team always seems to find a way to come back," said Thompson. "The real key was when we were down by 10 and put together a nice run during the first part of the second half. That was a real gutcheck performance."
Indeed. Pfingsten and Forster triggered Fairmont's game-opening 18-2 run before Heitkamp and Klein locked on target during the final two minutes of the first half.
Luverne parlayed its 10-0 surge to end the opening segment into an 18-2 spurt that bridged intermission en route to a 46-36 lead.
Kevin Hanson's traditional 3-point play immediately triggered Fairmont's countering 16-4 offensive avalanche as Pfingsten made four in a row, en route to hitting his last 10 field goals of the night, to swing a 55-50 lead to the home team.
Klein, however, connected on his final five free throws and last four field goals - including three 3s - to ignite Luverne's 12-2 run that eventually helped tie the game at 75.
Forster netted 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting for Fairmont, while Jay Ruen tallied 10 off the bench.
Heitkamp scored 18 points for Luverne, while Brett Heronimus chipped in 15.
Fairmont (19-5) plays host to Maple River on Monday night.
Luverne (13-10), the No. 4 seed in the Section 3AA, South Sub-Section playoffs, plays host to No. 5-seeded Martin County West in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in Luverne.
Josh Eversman produced 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists to guide Fairmont to a 57-44 victory over Luverne during B-squad action Friday night in Fairmont.
Luke Becker tallied 12 points and five assists for the hometown Cardinals, Nick Roggow contributed 10 points and seven boards, while Spencer Chirpich supplied nine points and four steals.
Fairmont (21-3) hosts Maple River on Monday.
Ben Abel scored 21 points to guide Fairmont to a 46-40 triumph over Luverne on Friday night during C-squad action in Fairmont.
Michael Hawkins scored seven points for the hometown Cardinals, while Derek Hunwardsen supplied seven points, eight rebounds and six steals.
Mountain Lake Christian 61, Martin Luther 44 - Josiah Stoesz had 23 rebounds, 18 points, four steals and three assists to lead the Bears to a 61-44 nonconference win over the Knights on Friday in Windom.
Micah Bargen added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Bears.
Garrett Schock led the Knights with 19 points, while Sam Geistfeld contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. Alex Weihe tallied 10 points and six rebounds.
The Knights were 14 of 51 on field goals and 10 of 14 on free throws.
Martin Luther (6-18) travels to Madelia on Monday night.