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Fairmont knocks off T-M-B, 60-46

WINDOM -- Riding a fast start and the double-figure scoring of the tall, lanky tandem of Brennan Holm and Jeff Janssen, the Fairmont Cardinals soared to a 60-46 victory over Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Section 3AA South sub-section boys' basketball tournament.

The victory by Fairmont (17-10) sends the Cardinals into Saturday's sub-section championship game against Pipestone Area, which edged Martin County West, 51-49, in the evening's first game.

T-M-B, which went 12-14 last winter, won 19 of 27 games this season and won the Camden Conference South championship.

"Fairmont is a very athletic team, and the Cardinals played solid defense and showed quickness on offense," exclaimed T-M-B head coach Rick Haberman, who guided the Panthers for the first time this season. "I thought they gave a great effort on the court tonight, we simply did not make enough baskets."

The Cardinals got out of the gate quickly, scoring the game's first 10 points, but after a timeout by Haberman at the 15:30 mark of the first half, the Panthers responded with a 7-0 run and climbed back into the contest.

Fairmont, however, countered with 11 unanswered points and upped their lead to 21-7 with 9:32 remaining in the half.

A pair of free throws by T-M-B's Anthony Dolan put the Panthers back on the board, and two free throws by Brandon Kirk closed the gap to 21-11, but the Cardinals scored the next six points to open up their largest lead, 27-11, with 4:25 left in the half.

Then the Panthers began their best surge, closing out the half with an exciting, and well-executed burst, outscoring Fairmont by a 13-2 margin over the next four minutes.

Kirk (team-high 13 points) started the run with a dandy drive down the lane and Drew Nelson (five rebounds, two steals) followed with lay-up and with 3:57 remaining, T-M-B had cut the margin to 27-15.

Steve Paradis (10 points, four blocks) scored inside on a feed from Isaac Dolan (five rebounds, five assists) and the score was 27-17. Kirk made a nice pass to Paradis for another T-M-B basket and with 2:18 left in the half, the score was 27-19.

Paradis rejected a Cardinal shot attempt 13 seconds later, as the Panthers continued to get defensive stops. The next time down, it was Isaac Dolan who found Paradis and the Panthers had cut the Fairmont lead to 27-21 with 1:43 showing on the clock.

Fairmont broke its four-minute scoring drought when Janssen found Martin Tow on the fastbreak, increasing the advantage to 29-21 with 1:03 to play.

T-M-B then worked the clock for a last shot and the Panthers execution worked to perfection when Walker Schaar drained a long 3-pointer with three seconds showing to cap the run and cut the Cardinal lead to five, 29-24.

After Fairmont scored first after intermission, another steal and lay-up by Nelson made the score 31-26 two minutes into the second half.

The Cardinals never let the Panthers get closer, as the South Central Conference club stretched the lead to 35-26, 39-28 and 43-31 over the next six minutes.

A 3-pointer by Kirk had brought T-M-B to within eight, 39-31, at the 10:43 mark, but the Cardinals were ahead 46-33 with 8:06 left and continued to hold off the Panther comeback attempts.

Kirk hit another trey at the 7:42 mark, closing the lead to 46-36. But two minutes later, the Fairmont was up by 11, 50-39

The Cardinals, who shot 75 percent at the line (21-of-28) then sealed the deal by making the majority of their free throw attempts.

Holm, a 6-5 junior, finished with 21 points and three steals to lead Fairmont, while Janssen -- a versatile 6-4 senior -- scored 15 timely points to go along with eight rebounds and four shot blocks.

Fairmont 29 31 -- 60

T-M-B 24 22 -- 46

Fairmont (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Walters 0-2-1-5, C.Janssen 0-3-4-10, Hestad 0-0-3-3, Tow 0-1-0-2, Wohlrabe 0-1-2-4, Holm 0-8-5-21, J.Janssen 1-3-6-15. Totals 1-18-21-60.

T-M-B (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Schmidt 0-1-0-2, Schaar 1-0-0-3, A.Dolan 1-0-2-5, Paradis 0-4-2-10, Kirk 3-1-2-13, I.Dolan 1-0-0-3, Nelson 0-2-0-4, Gervais 0-2-2-6. Totals 6-10-8-46.