hunter nelson

Faribault junior Hunter Nelson has been part of a secondary scoring group that’s been a key for the Falcons’ success this season. When the team ends a nearly three-week layoff Wednesday against Rochester Mayo, that group will be counted on to carry the scoring load. (File Photo/southernminn.com)

Game: Faribault (1-7) at Rochester Mayo (3-7), 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.

Recent results: The Falcons have not played since a 61-60 win against Rochester John Marshall on Feb. 8, while the Spartans have lost three straight against Mankato West, Austin and Rochester Century.

Last season: Rochester Mayo won both matchups by double digits, but since-graduated Gabe and Mason Madsen accounted for more than half the scoring output in both contests.

1. Just as it appeared Faribault was starting to click, it had to shut down. In addition to picking up the first win of the season in the game prior to the nearly three-week pause, the Falcons also battled Rochester Century to a 64-61 loss Feb. 5 and Northfield to a 77-72 defeat Jan. 30. The only lopsided game came in a loss against an Owatonna team that’s won eight of its last nine games. Even with that long pause, however, Faribault has won more recently than Rochester Mayo, which last triumphed 75-55 against Rochester John Marshall on Feb. 5. Since then, the Spartans have lost by 8, 10 and 16 points to Mankato West, Rochester Century and Austin.

2. The key for the Falcons during that improved stretch of play was the supporting cast. While senior guard John Palmer is justifiably the first and largest name on an opponent’s scouting report, how much of a lone wolf he is offensively has often dictated results. Against John Marshall, Palmer scored 27 points, but junior center Devin Lockerby added 11 points on 5 of 6 shooting and five other players scored. Against Century, Palmer accounted for 24 points, but Lockerby, Alex Sullivan, Hunter Nelson and Alex Leet all scored at least seven points. Against Northfield, Palmer exploded for 38 points, but the second-half comeback was largely driven by 12 points from Alex Gardner, nine from Lockerby, seven from Nelson and six from Sullivan. When the opposing defense is forced to devote resources to stopping multiple Faribault players, lots of holes start to open up.

3. For the last few seasons, Rochester Mayo has resided in the top half of the Big 9 Conference thanks to the high-flying Madsen twins. With both Gabe and Mason now in college, however, the Spartans have found it difficult to generate the same level of offense. Michael Sharp has shown he’s capable of producing the same raw numbers, as he racked up 25 points in the 70-54 loss to Austin on Feb. 19, but after years of playing supporting roles, Rochester Mayo’s new leaders have struggled to step into the limelight thus far. The underlying ability does show up, though, in a win against Northfield, an eight-point defeats against one-loss Mankato West and a pair of close setbacks against three-loss Rochester Century.

Reach Regional Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106 or follow him on Twitter @APGSoMnHughes. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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