Tigers Complete Rochester Two-Step
by Pat Rupp
Farmington finished its season-opening Rochester two-step by waltzing past Mayo 70-46 Tuesday night in its 2016-17 home opener. The Tigers breezed by Rochester Century 68-31 last week and are no 2-0 under new head coach Tharen Johnson.
“We are young and will make a lot of mistakes, especially early, but the big thing tonight was our effort,” Johnson said. “We were all over the floor after loose balls and defensively we really got after it.”
Kole Hinrichsen got the party started by draining a three-pointer on his first shot of the season and the Tigers never looked back. They built an early 21-5 lead and held a 31-15 advantage at halftime.
The margin could have been even more had the home team had a better shooting eye. Farmington got off an eye-catching 44 shots in the first half but connected on just 14 (32 percent). The Tigers made just two of 13 shots from behind the three-point arc over the first 18 minutes.
“Tonight we weren’t shooting the ball well so we wanted to pick up the speed of the game and create more scoring opportunities,” Johnson said. “Forty-four shots in a half is a lot of shots.”
Sam Wilson, who lit up Century for 34 points in the opener, had 18 of his team’s 31 points before the break.
“The guys look to Sam,” Johnson said. “He and Kole (Hinrichsen) have been there before but the other guys are new to playing at this level. They are still a little tentative at times but that will come with experience.”
Wilson scored 11 of his team’s first 15 points after intermission as the hustling Tiger defense helped the winners stretch their lead to 25 points at 60-35.
The Tigers were much more efficient at the offensive end of the floor in the second period, connecting on 17 of 33 shots (52 percent)
Wilson finished with a game-high 31 points despite sitting out most of the final 10 minutes when Johnson turned the game over to his younger players.
As was the case in the win over Century, the remainder of the Farmington scoring was spread out. Miles Mendes had 13 off the bench, including a crowd-pleasing dunk, to lead the supporting cast.
“After two games I would say our strong point has been our defense,” Johnson said. “We have 10 days to prepare for our next game and we will work at keeping that intensity and smoothing out our half-court offense.
“I thought Mayo offered us more of a challenge than Century and that brought out a better game from us, but we have a long way to go before we get to South Suburban Conference play.”
Next on the docket is a non-conference road game at Fridley next Friday (Dec. 16). The following Tuesday the Tigers open league play against Shakopee at Tiger Gym. Two days later they close out their pre-Christmas schedule with a non-conference home contest with Bloomington Jefferson.