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Cardinals sweep regular-season hoops series with Bucs

BEHIND THE DEFENSE­ — Fairmont Cardinals guard Madysen Allen (23) drives around Blue Earth Area Bucs defenders Kiera Osmundson (left) and Kaitlin Johnson (second from left) for a layup during Big South Conference basketball action Friday night in Blue Earth. Fairmont power forward Bryn Miller (far right) watches the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — Trademark defense, timely 3-point shooting and reaching the free throw line seven more times than Blue Earth Area triggered the Fairmont girls basketball team’s fourth victory in a row.

Cadence Becker, Bryn Miller, Faith Olson and Madysen Allen combined for 38 points, and Fairmont’s defense created a plus-11 turnover ratio to engineer a 52-43 Big South Conference triumph over the Blue Earth Area Bucs on Friday night.

“It seems like it’s been a long time since we’ve swept the regular-season series with Blue Earth (Area),” said Fairmont head coach Sara Junkermeier, whose lineup also posted a 50-24 victory over the Bucs on Jan. 3. “I wasn’t happy with us getting outrebounded (28-26) tonight, but we won the turnover battle and reached the free throw line 27 times.”

Trailing 8-4 on the heels of BEA guard Kiera Osmundson’s rare 4-point play and two more free throws, Allen’s runner in the lane triggered Fairmont’s pivotal 12-2 surge that gave the visitors a lead that they would not relinquish.

Allen, who finished with eight points, pocketed one of her co-game-high five steals and converted it into two points before Rayah Quiring and Emma Gudahl combined for three free throws.

Miller, who netted 10 points and grabbed a co-team-best six boards, converted a one-and-one situation before Arika Howard countered for the Bucs with a pair of charity tosses for two of her 13 points.

Becker, who topped the Cardinals’ balanced scoring attack with 11 points, also converted a one-and-one before Olson snapped the nylon cords on the first of her three 3-pointers to created breathing room for Fairmont at 16-10 with 8:25 left in the first half.

Down 28-17 at intermission, Howard and Osmundson combined forces to produce a 10-3 run to open the second half. Howard connected on two free throws and a hard drive in the paint before Olson countered for the Cardinals with a 3-pointer off an Allen assist.

Osmundson, who finished with a game-best 19 points, converted back-to-back Te’a Armstrong assists into back-to-back 3s to narrow the Bucs’ gap to 31-27 and forced a Junkermeier timeout at the 14:31 mark.

Junkermeier’s advice paid dividends as Allen drilled a left-wing 3 before Miller made two more free throws out of the short break to restore a nine-point lead.

Armstrong hit a 3 to later whittle the Bucs’ deficit to 36-30 only to see Miller and Becker work the low post to trigger a momentum-turning 9-0 run for the Cardinals.

Olson’s baseline drive and wraparound assist to Miller triggered the scoring surge, Becker made two free throws, Miller hit a putback and Maggy Totzke buried a clutch 3-pointer for a 45-30 lead with 5:20 remaining.

Olson finished with nine points and three assists for the Cardinals, Gudahl and Quiring chipped in five points apiece, while Cassidy Schultz added a co-team-best six rebounds and a co-game-high five steals.

Howard finished with a double-double of 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to complement four steals for the Bucs, Armstrong contributed four steals and three assists, while Eloise Blair pulled down six boards.

Fairmont (13-8) travels to Granada on Tuesday night for a non-league clash with Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther. Blue Earth Area (2-18) plays host to Jackson County Central on Monday night.

Fairmont 28-24–52

B.E. Area 17-26–43

FAIRMONT (52)

Miller 3-5 4-4 10, Allen 3-6 1-2 8, Becker 2-7 7-8 11, Totzke 1-4 0-0 3, Olson 3-4 0-0 9, Gudahl 1-4 3-6 5, Quiring 2-5 1-4 5, Schultz 0-0 1-3 1, Mosloski 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-36 17-27 52.

B.E. AREA (43)

K. Johnson 2-6 1-2 5, A. Howard 3-12 7-11 13, Dutton 0-1 0-0 0, Osmundson 6-12 3-5 19, Armstrong 1-4 0-0 3, Blair 1-5 1-2 3, Schavey 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 13-42 12-20 43.

3-pointers: Fairmont 5-12 (Olson 3, Allen 1, Totzke 1); B.E. Area 5-13 (Osmundson 4, Armstrong 1). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: B.E. Area 28 (A. Howard 10, Blair 6); Fairmont 26 (Miller, Becker and Schultz 6 each). Assists: Fairmont 9 (Olson 3); B.E. Area 4 (Armstrong 3). Steals: Fairmont 21 (Allen and Schultz 5 each); B.E. Area 14 (A. Howard and Armstrong 4 each).

Carissa Saxton scored nine points and Claire Nemmers contributed six points to engineer Fairmont’s 26-20 victory over Blue Earth Area during B-squad action Friday night.

North Union 39, Garner-Hayfield-Ventura 36 — Chloe Lofstrom garnered 19 points and eight rebounds to lead the Warrior girls past the Cardinals by three in Top of Iowa Conference action Friday night in Armstrong.

Vanessa VonBank totalled 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting behind the 3-point arc, while Hope Steinberger had five rebounds, dished out a team-high four assists, and pocketed a team-high four steals for the Warriors.

North Union made 14 of 40 field goals, including 5 of 17 from 3-point range, and hit 6 of 14 free throws.

The Warriors (13-7) play host to Lake Mills at 6:15 p.m. Monday night in Armstrong.

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