FAIRMONT — A first-half defensive change altered the tempo of Thursday night’s clash of Martin County girls basketball rivals at Cardinal Gym.
Freshman guard Brylee Miller produced a game-best 17 points and six assists to complement nine rebounds and four steals, while junior center Nevaeh Rahm delivered 16 points and nine boards to power the Fairmont Cardinals to a 69-42 non-league triumph over the Martin County West Mavericks in Fairmont.
Emily Anderson, who collected a double-double performance of 12 points and a game-best 12 rebounds, and Ella Carlson worked the paint to keep the visiting Mavericks close on the scoreboard during the initial 9 minutes.
Carlson’s traditional 3-point play off one of Kari Matejka’s team-high five assists helped draw MCW even at 6-all during the early stages before Emily Anderson’s weaving drive to the rack kept the Mavericks within striking distance at 15-14 at the 9 1/2-minute mark.
Fairmont head coach Sara Junkermeier then flipped the switch at the defensive end of the hardwood court.
“We switched from zone to full-court man defensively, and that triggered a couple of double-figure surges to go up by 18 at the half,” said Junkermeier.
Kate Busche then spearheaded the Cardinals’ end-to-end basketball-hawking defense by pocketing one of her game-high five steals to trigger an ensuing 13-2 offensive avalanche.
Rahm later spotted Grace Pendergast cutting to the basket for two of her eight points before Miller did likewise with Pendergast on the heels of sinking a solo charity toss to force a Maverick timeout at the 5:25 juncture.
“We stuck close to them for a lot of the game, but they beat us with a couple of big spurts,” said MCW head coach Rodger Taylor.
Thea Anderson converted another Matejka entry pass for a Maverick basket out of the break, but Kate Busche’s steal-turned-layup triggered the Cardinals’ countering 6-0 run.
Miller found Abby Cihoski for two of her eight points in the low post before Pendergast swooshed a pull-up 15-footer in the paint to cap Fairmont’s 28-16 lead with 3 minutes left before halftime.
Emily Anderson earned a pair of free throws before delivering one of her three assists to Liv Borchardt along the baseline to whittle the Mavericks’ deficit to 30-20, but Rahm and Ava Terfehr would have the final words of the opening half.
Hope Klanderud and Miller fed Rahm in the low blocks for back-to-back turnaround leaners, respectively, before Terfehr tossed in a runner and displayed her deft shooting touch via a 15-foot bank shot with 14 seconds to go in the first half en route to a 38-20 lead.
It was more of the same during the second half as Cihoski’s putback basket, Kate Busche’s theft-turned-layup, Klanderud’s left-handed carom shot and Rahm’s 10-footer off a Miller assist doubled the Cardinals’ advantage to 48-24 with 15:17 left in regulation.
Pendergast contributed eight points to Fairmont’s balanced attack, while Terfehr supplied six points and four assists off the bench.
Miller, Rahm and Klanderud, who pulled down six caroms, paced the Cardinals’ 35-23 rebounding edge on the game.
Matejka netted seven points and a team-best five assists for the Mavericks, Thea Anderson scored six points, while Avery Sanders pocketed a team-high four steals.
Fairmont (4-1) travels to St. Peter tonight for a Big South Conference game, while Martin County West (3-5) plays host to Cleveland tonight in Trimont in a Valley Conference contest.
Martin County West 68, St. Clair 46 — Mitchell Weber reeled off a game-best 29 points to stampede the Mavericks to a 22-point Valley Conference victory over the Cyclones on Thursday night in St. Clair.
Weber connected for three 3-pointers to help highlight his point production to complement grabbing six rebounds and doling out four assists.
Zach Anderson also knocked down three trifectas to help fuel his 17-point performance for MCW en route to producing a double-double. Anderson pulled down 10 boards and distributed three assists in the win.
Jamesson Forsberg contributed six points for the Mavericks, who made 17 of 33 shots from 2-point range on the night.
Brandon Meng tallied 15 points to top the Cyclones, who hit just 10 of 24 shots from 2-point distance.
Martin County West (5-5) travels to Granada on Tuesday night for a league contest against Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther.
St. Clair 27-19–46
Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther 70, Alden-Conger 66 — Jakob Fischer erupted for a game-leading 24 points to engineer the Jaguars’ four-point Valley Conference victory over the Knights on Thursday night in Granada.
Fischer also pulled down six rebounds and pocketed five steals in the winning effort, while teammate Kayden Loeschen generated 16 points and four steals.
Carter Fox collected a double-double of 13 points and a game-best 12 rebounds for the Jaguars, while Jackson Madsen tossed in 10 points.
The Jaguars (5-3) hit the road to St. Clair tonight for another conference contest.
Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 62, Blue Earth Area 54 — Freshman guard Daulton Bauer connected for a team-best 14 points to help the Bulldogs collar the previously-unbeaten Bucs by eight during non-league action Thursday night in Janesville.
Ashton Lloyd generated yet another double-double performance by collecting game-bests of 24 points and 10 boards to pace BEA.
Max Loge tossed in 11 points and doled out three assists for the Bucs, while Abram Kokos delivered seven points and pocketed three steals.
Jack Norman produced six points, seven rebounds and three assists for BEA, which made 22 of 61 field goals — including just 6 of 29 from 3-point distance.
Blue Earth Area (7-1) travels to Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial on Saturday, while JWP (5-3) travels to Wells tonight to face United South Central.