FAIRMONT - Fairmont committed only one turnover, made 55 percent of its field goals and received 15 points off the bench during the opening 18 minutes of Friday night's boys basketball game at Cardinal Gym.
Junior sharpshooter Mitch Pfingsten then reeled off 10 quick points on 4-for-4 shooting to trigger the hometown Cardinals' 14-3 offensive surge during the initial stages of the second half.
Pfingsten finished with a game-best 24 points behind 10-for-15 shooting from the floor to complement six rebounds, three assists and three steals to top Fairmont's 74-55 South Central Conference triumph over the New Ulm Eagles.
PULL-UP JUMPER — Fairmont’s Luke Hested fires a pull-up jumpshot over New Ulm’s Grant Kannegiesser during South Central Conference basketball action on Friday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Ryan Noll (31) and Justin Barnes (back left), along with the Eagles’ Tanner Kluis (40) and Sam Miller watch the action. Photo by Leanna Becker
"As a team, we were almost flawless turnover-wise during the first half," Cardinal mentor Jared Thompson said in reference with his lineup's 6-to-1 plus ratio in miscues before intermission. "We were concerned with their size inside (6-foot-6 junior center Tyler Dittrich), but we did a nice job of rebounding."
Pfingsten and Luke Hested each garnered six boards on the game, while Josh Eversman and Bryce Holm hauled in five caroms each to pace Fairmont's overall 37-25 edge on the glass.
The Cardinals' dominance on the boards served as the catalyst behind the red-and-white's efficient transitional game.
"I thought we ran the floor well tonight, especially during the first half," Thompson said.
After Aaron Stark sank two free throws to whittle the Eagles' deficit to 15-12 with just less than 10 minutes remaining before halftime, Fairmont's fastbreak formula literally ran off 11 unanswered points to help build a 14-point lead by the break.
Hested hit a spinning jumper from the low post off a Levi Becker assist to trigger the double-digit surge before Pfingsten delivered a traditional 3-point play off one of Ryan Noll's four assists.
Eversman, who generated nine of the Cardinal reserves' 27 points, worked a perfect give-and-go with Noll for a low-post lay-in before Levi Becker and Jay Ruen swooshed a left-wing leaner and a baseline jumper, respectively.
Dittrich, who topped the Eagles with 13 points, converted one of Chris Mulder's four assists into a 10-foot turnarounder in the lane to finally end the visitors' scoring drought at 26-14 with 6:23 left in the first half.
Mulder, who finished with 11 points, sank a pair of free throws and later sank one of his three trifectas on the night to keep New Ulm within 14 by intermission.
Up 43-29, Pfingsten snapped the nylon nets on one of his three 3s to help engineer Fairmont's 14-3 offensive avalanche only 2 minutes into the second segment.
Holm then pocketed a steal and drove the distance for a layup to force the Eagles to call timeout at the 15-minute mark.
Mulder drilled a 3-pointer out of the short recess only to watch as Pfingsten drove the lane for back-to-back bankers before drilling a trey off an Eversman assist.
Pfingsten later returned the favor by feeding Eversman for a layup to extend the Cardinals' edge to 57-32 with 13 minutes to go in regulation.
Eversman contributed nine points to Fairmont's balanced scoring attack, Levi Becker and Hested supplied eight points each, Holm tallied seven, while Ruen and Nick Roggow added six points each.
Fairmont (8-3, 2-0 SCC) plays host to Waseca on Thursday night in another conference contest, while New Ulm (3-9, 1-2) travels to Redwood Falls on Monday night to face Redwood Valley in a nonconference game.
Ben Abel scored 13 points to help guide Fairmont to a 50-28 victory over New Ulm during B-squad action on Friday night in Fairmont.
Spencer Chirpich contributed nine points and five rebounds to the Cardinals' winning ways, Derek Hunwardsen scored nine points, while teammate Parker Monsen chipped in four assists and three steals.
Tyler Tennyson produced 13 points and four steals to help steer Fairmont to a 36-26 win over New Ulm during C-squad action Friday night in Fairmont.
Clayton Maakestad netted 10 points for the Cardinals, Josh Liljenquist recorded five points and three steals, while teammate Noah Quiring pulled down four rebounds.
Martin County West 67, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 57 - The Mavericks outscored the Knights by a 38-27 margin in the second half to overcome a one-point halftime deficit to post a 10-point Valley Conference victory on Friday night in Lake Crystal.
Jake Faber delivered a game-leading 22 points to complement four rebounds in pacing Martin County West's winning effort.
Cordell Weber netted 16 points, Austin Krumwiede tallied 12 points, while Mitch Sitzmann contributed 10 points and three assists for the Mavericks.
Martin County West blistered the nylon nets on 15 of 17 free throw shooting for 88 percent to go with 22-for-55 accuracy from the field for 40 percent.
Sam Krahling scored 19 points to top Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, while teammate Michael Coates chipped in 12 points.
Martin County West (8-2, 3-1 Valley Conference) travels to Blue Earth Area on Monday night for a nonconference game.
Blue Earth Area 80, St. James 75 - Luke Monson unleashed a career-best 34 points to complement a game-high 14 rebounds to guide the Bucs to an 80-75 South Central Conference victory over the Saints on Friday night in Blue Earth.
Derek Johnson delivered 25 points to Blue Earth Area's winning performance, teammate Brandyn Olsen neared triple-double territory by distributing a game-high 11 assists to go with eight points and eight rebounds, while Steven Plocker added nine rebounds.
Zach Brandts scored 26 points to top St. James, while Ryan Menssen delivered 25 points.
Blue Earth Area (3-2, 1-1 South Central Conference) plays host to Martin County West on Monday night in a non-league contest.
St. James 33-42-75