Fairmont sinks late FTs, JCC

FAIRMONT – Nearly every time Jackson County Central whittled its deficit to one possession during Monday night’s second half, Fairmont answered with either a 3-pointer or free throws.

Mitch Pfingsten delivered his only trifecta and buried four charity tosses in a row during the final two minutes, while teammate Levi Becker converted a key one-and-one situation with 28 seconds remaining to power the Cardinals’ 65-60 triumph over the visiting Huskies in Fairmont.

“Obviously, Levi and Mitch hit some clutch free throws for us down the stretch,” Fairmont mentor Jared Thompson said, “but I also thought we took care of the ball better during the second half.

“We showed a lot of patience against their box-and-one (defense), and thought our guys were able to find the gaps by doing a better job of cutting to create space.”

After 6-foot-5 center Jon Harmening garnered one of his game-high 13 rebounds for a putback basket to trim the Huskies’ deficit to 54-53, Thompson called timeout with 4:20 remaining to regroup his troops.

Josh Eversman, who supplied seven points and a team-leading nine rebounds, earned a trip to the free throw line and calmly swooshed back-to-back free throws to restore the Cardinals’ three-point edge a minute later.

Harmening, who completed his double-double performance by netting a game-high 19 points, tossed in a low-post turnaround jumper off of one of Taylor Christopher’s five assists to narrow JCC’s gap to 56-55.

Pfingsten, who generated 15 points, however, retaliated by converting Ryan Noll’s sixth assist into a pivotal 3-pointer from the left wing to extend Fairmont’s lead to four with 2 minutes remaining in regulation.

Levi Becker, who poured in a team-best 18 points, displayed his poise under pressure by sinking both ends of a one-and-one situation at the 28-second juncture to establish a six-point Cardinal advantage.

Noll, who also delivered nine points to complement his assist total, then displayed his defensive prowess by drawing a charge with 17 seconds to go.

Pfingsten then converted a one-and-one situation at the 15-second mark before JCC’s Shadrack Wacker answered with two free throws at the other end.

Pfingsten swooshed two more shots from the line with 6 seconds remaining before Wacker tossed in a 3-pointer with only five-tenths of a second left in the game.

Bryce Holm supplied eight points, Justin Barnes chipped in six points, Jay Ruen doled out six assists and Pfingsten pocketed a game-high five steals to round out the Cardinals’ winning performance.

Christopher netted 14 points to complement five assists and three steals for the Huskies, Wacker tallied 13 points and four assists, while Darnell Taylor-Breck added seven points.

Fairmont (10-3, 3-0 South Central) travels to Blue Earth Area on Friday night for a 7:45 p.m. conference clash.

Jackson County Central posted a 46-26 victory over Fairmont during C-squad action on Saturday.

Clayton Maakestad scored eight points to top the Cardinals, Tyler Tennyson netted six points, while Noah Quiring collected 10 rebounds and three steals.