by Pat Rupp
The Tigers didn’t have to look very far for a replacement when veteran head coach Shane Wyandt stepped down after the 2015-16 season. Tharen Johnson, who spent a dozen seasons as an assistant under Wyandt, takes the reins of the Farmington program this winter.
Johnson helped Wyandt boost the Farmington fortunes from a one-win first season in 2005 to the school’s first Missota Conference championship in 47 years in 2009. During his tenure as an assistant, Johnson also played a role in the school’s move from Class 3A to 4A and from the Missota to the Southwest Suburban Conference.
Johnson will field a relatively inexperienced squad in his first year as head coach. The Tigers lost seven players to graduation from last year’s squad, including all-South Suburban selection Alex Wurst and all-league honorable mention performers Lucas Berg, Alex Burrell and Alex Hart.
The Tigers do return two players from last year’s team that finished 12-15 overall and 6-12 in South Suburban play.
Senior Sam Wilson led that team in scoring last and earned all-South Suburban honorable mention. Senior Kole Hinrichsen also saw varsity playing time last season and brings a wealth of leadership ability as witnessed by his quarterback play for the Tiger football team the past three seasons.
“Sam has played since he was a sophomore, so he brings a lot of experience,” Johnson said. “Kole is a leader and will give us toughness. He is a very good rebounder for his size and is a natural passer who improved his offense over the summer.”
Past co-captains Wilson and Hinrichsen the varsity experience cupboard is relatively bare although Johnson was quick to point out that is in no way to be used as an excuse.
“Most high school teams are going to be relying on players who have not played varsity before,” he said “We will need some of our juniors and sophomores to grow up quickly.”
Chief among the candidates to earn spots in Johnson’s rotation are juniors Caden Freetly, Zach Hedquist, Will Lofgren and Brock Mogensen and sophomores Brady Bean, Miles Mendes, Jameson Shrum and Adam Weed.
“We will see who has improved the most over the summer and will be able to contribute this year,” Johnson said of the underclassmen.
Johnson figures his team’s strengths will lie in its defense and ability to rebound. As for the offense, that will play out over time.
“We will have to find other scorers than Sam (Wilson) and Kole (Hinrichsen),” he said. “We will need to learn how to execute our offense and play team basketball in order to open shots for others.
“Our goal will be to compete every night in the always-tough South Suburban Conference. The South Suburban has had a team win the state tournament three of the last four years so we will have to bring a consistent effort to be competitive.”
Johnson tabbed perennial powers Apple Valley and Lakeville North as the pre-season favorites in the race for South Suburban honors with five-time defending North the odds-on choice in Section 1AAAA.
Ex-Tiger Jacob Sand moves up from sophomore coach to take Johnson’s former varsity assistant position. Newcomer Daniel Beyer, who previously coached at Waukesha Catholic (Wisconsin) will handle the junior varsity coaching chores while another newcomer, AJ Dubek, fills Sand’s position as 10th grade coach. Adam Huppert and Roland Bradley return as coaches of the ninth grade team.
The Tigers started practice on November 21 and have a couple of weeks to prepare for their season opener, a Dec 1, non-conference date at section rival Rochester Century.