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Hesebeck, Huskies edge Cardinals for South basketball crown

SUB-SECTION SCRAMBLE — Fairmont’s Wyatt Frank (center), Carter Bell (back) and Jack Hested (on floor) scramble to gain possession of the basketball before Jackson County Central’s Andrew Hesebeck (33) and Alex Bretzman (5) during Saturday night’s Section 3AA, South Sub-Section championship game on the Southwest Minnesota State University campus in Marshall. (Photo by Greg Abel)

MARSHALL — Fairmont head basketball coach Jared Thompson’s defensive strategy of holding Jackson County Central’s high-scoring point guard Rudy Voss in check worked almost perfectly during Saturday night’s sub-section championship game in Marshall.

Thompson, however, could not have envisioned Huskies post player Andrew Hesebeck blistering the Southwest Minnesota State University nylon cords on 13-for-17 field-goal shooting en route to a game-best 28 points.

Hesebeck accounted for half of No. 1-seeded JCC’s point production, while Voss supplied eight points to complement game-highs of seven assists and five steals to engineer a 56-51 victory over the No. 2-seeded Cardinals in the Section 3AA, South Sub-Section finale.

JCC (19-7) advances to face North Sub-Section champion Minnewaska Area (21-6) in an 8 p.m. Section 3 championship clash Thursday night back at SMSU in Marshall.

Grant Jensen connected on two free throws with 2.8 seconds remaining in regulation to propel the Lakers to a 51-50 win over the Redwood Valley Cardinals in the North title game.

“We wanted to keep tonight’s game in the 50s (point range), and were able to contain Rudy, but Jackson’s other guys got the better of us,” said Thompson, whose lineup ended its season with a 17-10 overall record. “Obviously, Hesebeck was the big difference for them tonight.”

Thompson’s post-game analysis proved as accurate as a Hesebeck low-post leaner as JCC’s 6-foot-4 center answered two of Fairmont’s three late comeback surges before icing the victory with his 13th and final field goal with less than 20 seconds to go.

Wyatt Frank, who neared double-double territory by producing 20 points and a game-best nine rebounds, threaded a backdoor pass to Caden Baarts for a low-post lay-in before swooshing a 15-foot baseline jumper to inch Fairmont within 52-51 with 1:09 left in regulation.

Voss drew a foul and sank both free throws for the Huskies only 13 seconds later to restore a three-point margin before Hesebeck ran the hardwood floor to score the game-clinching basket off one of Jack Brinkman’s five assists. Nathan Post triggered the sequence by rebounding Fairmont’s miss and quickly outletting his pass to Brinkman upcourt.

“I thought the key tonight was how hard Andrew worked for position in the low post and then was able to finish,” said JCC head coach Alex Hein. ” … I believe he’s played his best basketball during our last seven games.”

Hesebeck demonstrated his composure in clutch situations by first converting respective assists from Brinkman and Voss into back-to-back low-post baskets for a 50-43 lead. Zach Jorgensen’s baseline runner had drawn Fairmont within 46-43 at the 5 1/2-minute juncture a minute earlier.

Frank then matched his counterpart with a low-post leaner and a putback basket to inch the Cardinals within 50-47 with 2:08 remaining in the playoff game.

Voss then utilized a penetrate-and-dish no-look pass to Hesebeck only 22 seconds later to give the Huskies breathing room at 52-47.

“Fairmont cut our lead to one at 40-39 with about 10 and a half minutes left, but Noah Carr really gave us a lift when we needed one,” said Hein.

After Joey Flohrs drained a clutch 3-pointer to claw the Cardinals within one, Carr worked the baseline for a sliding leaner before sinking 1 of 2 free throws for a four-point edge for the Huskies.

Flohrs cashed in one of Jorgensen’s team-best five assists for two of his nine points off the bench to inch Fairmont within 43-41 with 9 minutes to go, but Alex Bretzman’s only points of the night via a traditional 3-point play re-established JCC’s five-point lead at the 8:40 mark.

“We got off to a slow start, but we finally got the nervousness out of our system and maintained our composure to get things going,” Hein said in reference to JCC’s 0-for-5 shooting start that resulted in an early 7-0 deficit.

Frank’s low-post leaner, Jack Hested’s 3-pointer and Baarts’ runner through traffic triggered Fairmont’s 3-for-3 shooting start to the playoff clash.

Hesebeck then poured in 15 of the Huskies’ 31 first-half points, including single-handedly triggering an 8-2 surge during the final 4 minutes, to snap a 23-all tie en route to a 31-25 edge at intermission.

“I’m proud of these guys for keeping the game that close with 4 minutes to go,” said Thompson. “We just faced the most talented team in our section and went toe-to-toe with them, so I’m very pleased with our guys’ efforts tonight.”

Flohrs produced nine points, seven rebounds and three steals off the Cardinals’ bench, Baarts netted 10 points, while Jorgensen garnered eight boards to complement his five assists.

FHS 25-26–51

JCC 31-25–56

FAIRMONT (51)

Frank 9-16 2-3 20, Hested 2-10 0-0 6, Jorgensen 2-6 0-0 4, Bell 0-3 0-0 0, Baarts 5-7 0-3 10, Toomer 1-3 0-0 2, Flohrs 4-10 0-0 9. Totals 23-55 2-6 51.

JCC (56)

Voss 2-12 4-4 8, Carr 2-3 1-3 5, Hesebeck 13-17 1-6 28, Bargfrede 3-5 0-0 6, Brinkman 0-6 0-0 0, Buhl Jr. 2-7 0-0 6, Post 0-5 0-0 0, Bretzman 1-3 1-1 3. Totals 23-58 7-14 56.

3-pointers: Jackson Co. Central 3-17 (Buhl Jr. 2, Hesebeck 1); Fairmont 3-20 (Hested 2, Flohrs 1). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Fairmont 36 (Frank 9, Jorgensen 8, Flohrs 7); JCC 34 (Hesebeck and Post 7 each). Assists: JCC 13 (Voss 7, Brinkman 5); Fairmont 10 (Jorgensen 5). Steals: JCC 9 (Voss 5); Fairmont 7 (Flohrs 3).

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