Tigers fall to Sabers in Conference Opener 69-61
By Pat Rupp
Shakopee raced to a 33-20 halftime lead and then fought off a second half Farmington comeback for a 69-61 win Tuesday night at Tiger Gym in the South Suburban Conference opener for both teams.
The Tigers, coming off a rare two-week stretch without a game, showed some offensive rust early.
“We weren’t patient enough on offense in the first half,” Tiger coach Tharen Johnson said. “We were settling for quick shots and not getting the ball inside where we had advantages with some match-ups we had with their smaller guards.”
Rebounding was also an issue as the Tigers managed just one offensive board over the first 18 minutes.
“Too many guys were just watching their teammates shoot and not attempting to get position to get a rebound,” Johnson said.
The Farmington coach was quick to point out his team’s sluggish first half was in no way to blame on the two weeks off.
“We just didn’t execute as well as we needed to,” he said.” If we were not prepared to play then I will take the blame as that’s my responsibility as the head coach.”
Johnson had more to be pleased with in the second half as the Tigers outscored the Sabers 41-36 but in the end, the first half deficit was just too much to overcome.
“I like the fact that we kept battling to the end of the game,” Johnson said. “I also liked that we had some other guys start contributing more offensively.”
Sam Wilson who had averaged 32.5 points per game in season-opening wins over Rochester Century and Rochester Mayo again led the way for Farmington with 23 points.
“They had their best defenders on Sam all night,” Johnson said, “so some other guys had to step up. Caden Freetly played really well, especially in the second half. He was active defensively and got into the paint offensively.
“Kole Hinrichsen also played much better in the second half. He had smaller guys on him and the game plan was to post him up and let him make plays. He wasn’t as aggressive as we would have liked in the first half. I challenged him at halftime to look for his shot more and he responded with some nice play.”
Freetly finished with 16 points and Hinrichsen made it three Tigers in double figures with 14.
In addition to the slow start the Tigers hurt themselves at the foul line where they converted just nine of 18 attempts.
We need to play more patiently on offense when our transition isn’t there and then we need to learn to execute at the offensive end better,” Johnson said. “We had too many missed layups and free-throws. You can’t win in the South Suburban Conference doing those things.
Farmington (2-1) plays one more game before Christmas, hosting Bloomington Jefferson Thursday night at Tiger Gym. Tip-off is 7:00.