Tigers pound Prescott, advance to finals
by Pat Rupp
Prescott (Wisconsin) came into Thursday night’s match-up with Farmington in the first round of the Hastings Holiday Tournament with a perfect 5-0 record, a 7-1 center and hopes of knocking off a Minnesota big school opponent.
The Cardinals left the Hastings gym with a stinging 85-53 defeat at the hands of the Tigers who may have even surprised first-year head coach Tharen Johnson with their dead-eye shooting.
“We haven’t shot the ball that well yet but tonight we got good shots and knocked them down,” Johnson said. “One of my assistants keeps track of those things and at the start of the game, he leaned over and told me were a perfect six-for-six from the field…We shoot like that and we are going win some games in the South Suburban (Conference).”
The winners did, in fact, make their first six shots and were eight-of 10, including six three-pointers from the field when the scoreboard read Farmington 23 Prescott 7 just before the midway point of the opening half.
The Tigers continued to blister the nets the rest of the half, finishing the first 18 minutes, 18 of 29 from the floor (62 percent). Their biggest lead came at 38-20 and at intermission it was all but over at 46-30.
“We moved the ball well and obviously shot well,” Johnson said, “but the big thing we concentrated on was defense and rebounding. We didn’t shut their big guy down completely but we ran two guys at him and for the most held him down.”
Owen Hamilton, the Cardinals’ giant in the middle, finished with 16 hard-earned points, four below his season average.
“He skipped the ball cross-court a couple of times for open three’s, but for the most part we did what we needed to do. We didn’t rebound so well in the first half but in the second we did a much better job.”
Farmington continued to pad its cushion in the second half and late in the game held a 36-point advantage. With seven-plus minutes to go, the officials put the game on running time.
Another key to the Tiger win was scoring balance. Leading scorer Sam Wilson paced the season-best team effort with 26 points and sophomore Miles Mendes turned in his game of the young season with 17, including a pair of corner three-pointers and a breakaway dunk.
Mendes also drew the primary job of defending Hamilton and was more than up to the task. In one first half sequence, he blocked two Hamilton shots on the same possession.
Adam Weed chipped in with nine points. Kole Hinrichsen and Jameson Shrum each tallied eight and Brady Bean had seven off the bench. All in all, 11 Tigers got into the scoring act.
The win upped Farmington’s season record to 3-2 and set up a Friday night date with Irondale (4-3), a 75-63 winner over Hastings in Thursday’s other semifinal. Tip-off for the title game is 7:00 in Hastings.