by Pat Rupp
Farmington ushered in the Tharen Johnson coaching era in style with a 68-31 thrashing of section rival Rochester Century Thursday night in Rochester. The Tigers shot a sizzling 56.9 percent (26 for 51) from the field in the season opener.
“I thought for the first game of the season we played confidently,” Johnson said. “It was the first meaningful varsity game for everyone but Sam Wilson. We didn’t have the jitters that can come with that first varsity game.
“Century is a rebuilding program with a new coach. They played hard but are a couple years away from competing at the level of the South Suburban Conference.”
Wilson, the team’s leading scorer a year ago, broke out of the gates in a big way, outscoring the entire Century team with a 34-point effort on 15-for 22 shooting from the floor. The senior forward scored from inside and out, finishing with four-three pointers.
“Sam’s goal is to play basketball collegiately next year,” Johnson said. “He put in a lot of work in the off-season and I think the results showed in this game.”
The Tigers left little doubt as to the game’s outcome, using a hustling defense and some careless Century ball-handling to score the game’s first 11 points. The visitors led by as many as 30 in the opening half with Wilson tallying 27 points before intermission.
“I thought we defended well,” Johnson said. “We stressed communicating on defense in our pre-game. The boys did well playing as a unit defensively and it led to some easy transition baskets for us.”
The second half was a carbon copy of the first with running time eventually kicking in due to the lopsided score.
The stingy Farmington defense held the Panthers to just 11 points after the halftime break.
Wilson was the only Tiger to finish in double figures for the winners. Brock Mogensen, Caden Freelty and Miles Mendes each had six and Jameson Shrum chipped in with five.
“We will need other guys to score as teams start game planning to slow down Sam,” Johnson said. “Sam did a nice job setting up scoring opportunities for others and he will need to continue to do that. Our younger guys will learn to score at the varsity level once they gain more experience.”
At Century the Tigers were without the services of senior Kole Hinrichsen who was preparing for Saturday’s Minnesota All-Star football game. He should be back on the court next week.
“Kole will bring another veteran presence to our lineup,” Johnson said. “He is a strong defender and a guy that can generate offense.”
The Tigers open their home season Tuesday night against another section opponent, Rochester Mayo. Farmington won big when the two teams met in Rochester last season but Johnson said he isn’t sure what to expect from the Spartans this time around.
“Outside of some of their personnel, we don’t know a lot about Mayo because they also have a new coach,” he said. “So we are just going to go into the game trying to get better at what we do and let them worry about us.”
Tip-off for the non-conference contest is 7:00 at Tiger Gym.