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Fairmont to host TCU in girls basketball opener

READY FOR TIPOFF — Members of the Fairmont Cardinals girls basketball team tipping off the season by playing host to Tri-City United tonight at Cardinal Gym include, front row (l-r): Faith Olson, Madysen Allen, Maggy Totzke, Emma Gudahl, Claire Nemmers, Cadence Becker and Laura Thompson. Back row: Maddy Schwieger, Carissa Saxton, Rayah Quiring, Bryn Miller, Brittney Mosloski, Cassidy Schultz and Emily Frank. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Four Waterville-Elysian-Morristown free throws during the final 14 seconds of regulation prevented No. 7-seeded Fairmont from upending the No. 2-seeded Bucs in last season’s Section 2AA, South Sub-Section basketball quarterfinals.

Then-senior Taylor Crissinger produced 18 points to keep the upset-minded Cardinals within striking distance before Toryn Richards’ late heroics salvaged a 40-37 victory for the Bucs.

Crissinger — who joined Fairmont’s 1,000-point career scoring club during her final prep game — and Cardinals’ all-time leading 3-point shooter Lexi Lunn, however, graduated last spring, creating a statistical void to fill in 2019-20.

“Nearly half (48.6 percent) of our points exited the gym when Taylor and Lexi graduated,” said third-year Fairmont head girls basketball coach Sara Junkermeier. “Now we (coaching staff) need to figure out how to replace those offensive numbers.”

Junkermeier, varsity assistant Sara Gudahl, B-squad coach Ashley Scheevel and C-squad coach Terry Ehlert will first look to implement more players into the mix to create a better balanced attack.

“So far, our four junior captains (Madysen Allen, Bryn Miller, Faith Olson and Maddy Schwieger) have provided outstanding leadership on and off the court during the preseason,” said Junkermeier, whose lineup tips off the season by playing host to Section 2AA rival Tri-City United at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. “Our coaches are looking at who comes to practice on time, plays hard and makes adjustments to do what’s best for the overall program.

“We’re trying to build a ‘team’ culture.”

Allen, Olson and Miller — along with Cadence Becker, Rayah Quiring and Maggy Totzke — return to the hardwood court after representing six of Junkermeier’s regular eight-player rotation during the home stretch of last season.

Becker, an undersized but strong 5-foot-8 sophomore, returns to the low post after netting the Cardinals’ third-best scoring clip (6.9 points per game) and pulling down the second-best rate (3.8 rpg) in rebounds.

“We’ll use Cadee in the post at times, but plan to use her a little more at the wing,” Junkermeier said in reference to Becker, who also distributed 32 assists and garnered 19 steals.

The hard-working Totzke returns to Fairmont’s backcourt for a third varsity season on the heels of tallying the lineup’s fourth-best scoring average (5.4 ppg) on the strength of the Cardinals’ No. 2 mark in 3-pointers made (25).

Allen and Olson will rejoin Totzke in the backcourt and combine to take charge of Fairmont’s basketball-handling duties and long-distance shooting.

“Those three are interchangeable at guard,” Junkermeier said in reference to Allen (39 assists a year ago), Olson (16 made 3s) and Totzke (28 assists).

The 5-9 Miller and 5-10 Quiring will fill the forward positions again after garnering 58 and 56 boards, respectively, in 2018-19, with Schwieger figuring into the mix, too.

Brittney Mosloski will add her 5-11 muscular frame to the center and power forward positions after seeing some varsity minutes near the end of last season.

“Fourteen players is a solid number. Five will play B-squad, with hopes by the end of December, be able to get more positive minutes at the varsity level,” said Junkermeier. “Hopefully, we’ll have some players step up and fill the positions we need help at.”

Guards Emma Gudahl, Claire Nemmers and Laura Thompson; center Emily Frank; and fowards Cassidy Schultz and Carissa Saxton — all sophomores — will round out the opening-day varsity roster.

“With four juniors and 10 sophomores, we’re going to have this team play together for the next 2 to 3 years,” said Junkermeier. “Now we need to continue to support and encourage each other to contribute to the overall team effort.

“I like how much we’ve progressed so far.”

Junkermeier and coaching staff also will look to capitalize on their significantly taller lineup this winter than during the past two seasons.

“We plan to pick up the defensive intensity and take advantage of our quickness and length,” said Junkermeier. “Hopefully we’re able to put some pressure on opposing teams and maybe create some extra offensive opportunities.”

So, what are the Cardinals’ goals prior to tonight’s season-opening tipoff?

“Just get better with each and every game as the season progresses,” said Junkermeier. “We just need to focus on our own personnel and figure out where the pieces fit together the best.”

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