FAIRMONT — Jacob Crissinger delivered two season-saving plays — one at each end of Cardinal Gym’s hardwood court — to help No. 3-seeded Fairmont survive No. 6-seeded Luverne’s upset bid in Saturday afternoon’s playoff opener.
After Gannon Ahrendt drained a left-corner 3-pointer to recapture the lead — 49-47 — for Luverne, Crissinger swooshed a top-of-the-key 3 to inch Fairmont ahead 50-49 with 19.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Crissinger then drew a pivotal offensive charge from Ahrendt with 8.8 ticks to go to regain possession for Fairmont before Zach Jorgensen hit the front end of a one-and-one with 2.7 seconds left to ice the No. 3 seed’s narrow 51-49 win over Luverne.
Fairmont (13-11) advances to face No. 2-seeded Redwood Valley (20-7) in a Section 3AA, South Sub-Section semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night in Windom. Redwood Valley gained the next round by rolling by No. 7-seeded St. James Area, 77-32.
No. 1-seeded Pipestone Area squares off against No. 4-seeded Jackson County Central in a 6 p.m. South Sub-Section semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday in Windom. The Arrows downed No. 8-seeded Windom Area, 66-54, while the Huskies fended off No. 5-seeded Montevideo, 75-67.
Ahrendt, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, poured in a game-leading 33 points and pocketed three steals for Luverne, which closed out its season with a 10-14 overall record.
“What can I say? Jacob came through with two huge plays during the final 20 seconds of the game today,” said Fairmont head coach Jared Thompson. “He hadn’t made a 3 all game, but his teammates had confidence in him and set him up for the go-ahead 3-pointer, and he nailed it.
“Drawing the charge during the next possession obviously also proved big.”
Jorgensen produced 10 of his 17 points during the postseason clash’s initial 18 minutes, while 6-6 post player Sawyer Tordsen netted seven points and grabbed six rebounds — en route to a double-double of 16 points and 12 boards — to power Fairmont to a 28-16 lead by intermission.
Jorgensen’s cutter off Armando Hernandez’s assist, Hernandez’s putback basket and Tordsen’s follow-up bucket extended Fairmont’s margin to 34-18 to open the second half.
Ahrendt, however, had other ideas as he blistered the nets for nine points to trigger Luverne’s incredible 16-0 run to knot the game at 34 with 9 minutes remaining in regulation.
Ironically, Fairmont and Luverne would exchange the lead a dozen times and add one more tie during the final 8 1/2 minutes to keep the Cardinal Gym fans on the edge of the bleachers.
Fairmont’s two-man game between Jorgensen and Tordsen countered Luverne’s 1-2 offensive punch of Ahrendt and Eli Radtke, who delivered seven key points and four assists off the bench.
Radtke spotted Ahrendt for a baseline leaner to swing a 43-42 lead to Luverne with 4 minutes to go before Levi Pooley fed a cutting Jorgensen for a runner in traffic to grab back the lead at 44-43 one minute later.
Jorgensen then threaded one of his team-best four assists to Tordsen in the low blocks for a power-post basket and 46-43 Fairmont lead with 2:26 showing on the scoreboard.
Ahrendt, however, with one flip of his wrist, snapped the nets on the third of his game-best four 3-pointers to tie the score at 46-all near the 2-minute juncture.
Tordsen converted a solo free throw at the 1:04 mark before Ahrendt buried his final trifecta for the two-point lead.
Crissinger’s last-second ensuing offensive and defensive heroics then helped Fairmont avert a first-round upset in the postseason.
Hernandez contributed eight points and six rebounds to Fairmont’s winning effort, while Crissinger finished with five points.
Jorgensen 7-15 1-2 17, Hernandez 4-9 0-0 8, Tordsen 6-8 4-7 16, Crissinger 1-6 2-2 5, Maakestad 1-2 0-0 2, Junkermeier 0-1 0-0 0, Rodning 0-1 0-0 0, Pooley 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 20-44 7-11 51.
Overgaard 1-6 2-2 4, Ahrendt 13-30 3-3 33, Sehr 0-3 0-0 0, Schoeneman 1-3 0-0 3, Cole-Kraty 1-3 0-0 2, Radtke 3-8 1-4 7, DeBeer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-53 6-9 49.
3-pointers: Luverne 5-12 (Ahrendt 4-8, Schoeneman 1-2, Radtke 0-1, Overgaard 0-1); Fairmont 4-15 (Jorgensen 2-6, Crissinger 1-6, Pooley 1-2, Maakestad 0-1). Rebounds: Fairmont 28 (Tordsen 12); Luverne 26 (Cole-Kraty 9). Assists: Fairmont 9 (Jorgensen 4); Luverne 8 (Radtke 4). Steals: Luverne 9 (Ahrendt 3); Fairmont 4.