MANKATO - Fairmont's backcourt tandem of Josh Eversman and Mitch Pfingsten combined equally for 38 points to guide the Class 2A, No. 3-ranked Cardinals to a 61-57 opening-round victory over the Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Knights during the Bethany Lutheran College holiday basketball invitational on Thursday night in Mankato.
Fairmont (8-1) advances to play the Mankato Loyola Crusaders (6-3) in a 6:30 p.m. championship semifinal game today at the North Gym on the BLC campus in Mankato. Loyola advanced via a 74-62 first-round victory over Minnesota Valley Lutheran on Thursday.
LCWM (6-3) faces MVL (4-4) at 6 p.m. today in a consolation semifinal at Younge Gym on the BLC campus.
OFF THE WINDOW — Fairmont guard Mitch Pfingsten (3) lofts a bank shot over Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial defender Mason Jones (headband) and off the window for a basket during first-round action at the Bethany Lutheran College invitational at Younge Gym in Mankato on Thursday. Fairmont’s Jay Ruen (35) and Ben Abel (23), along with LCWM’s Michael Coates (12), watch the action. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Pfingsten and Eversman each delivered 19 points, while Eversman shared team-high rebounding honors with Jay Ruen and Ben Abel by garnering six boards each on the night.
Ruen also contributed nine points to the Cardinals' winning effort, Abel chipped in seven points, while Nick Roggow added five points.
Fairmont connected on 23 of 49 shots from the field for 47 percent, while sinking 13 of 19 free throws for 62 percent.
Bryson Yackel scored a game-high 21 points, including a perfect 9-for-9 at the free throw line, to top the Knights, while teammate Michael Coates tallied 15 points and Colin Kater chipped in eight points.
In the other first-round games at the BLC holiday invitational in Mankato on Thursday, St. Croix Lutheran handed New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva its first loss of the season - an 88-65 defeat.
St. Clair then knocked off defending tournament champion Maple River, 75-55, in the other quarterfinal clash.
St. Clair (7-2) faces St. Croix Lutheran (6-2) at 8:30 p.m. tonight at North Gym in a championship semifinal, while Maple River (3-5) takes on NRHEG (6-1) at 8 p.m. tonight at Younge Gym in a consolation semifinal on the BLC campus in Mankato.
Mountain Lake Area 84, Truman/Martin Luther 42 - Carter Kirk produced a game-high double-double performance to power the Class 1A, No. 3-ranked Wolverines to a 42-point first-round victory over the BluejayKnights at the Wolverine Holiday Classic in Mountain Lake on Thursday.
The 6-foot-7 Kirk collected 29 points and 15 rebounds to complement four assists, while teammate Cody Klassen supplied 13 points. Andrew Hempeck chipped in eight points and distributed five assists in the win.
Sam Geistfeld generated 17 points to top the BluejayKnights, while teammates Aaron Neumann and Alex Weihe each scored six points.
Mountain Lake Area (8-0) plays Ellsworth (9-2) for the tournament championship at 5:30 p.m. today in Mountain Lake.
Drew Cheskie scored 20 points to guide Ellsworth to a 67-59 opening victory over Legacy Christian.
Nate Bertsch scored 20 points to top Legacy Christian, who faces Truman/Martin Luther (3-5) at 2 p.m. today in the third-place game.