Tigers Roar to Hastings Title
by Pat Rupp
Prior to the four-team Hastings Holiday Tournament, Farmington coach Tharen Johnson surveyed the field and felt his team could play with the other three entrants. Turns out he was right and then some.
After a first round drubbing of Prescott, Wisconsin (85-53) the Tigers routed Irondale 75-57 in a championship game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. That’s a point differential of 50 over the two games.
“I thought we could come in here and win it,” Johnson said, “but we did a lot of things better than we have been. I’d like to see us keeping shooting like we did in these two games and our overall play showed a lot of improvement.”
Farmington didn’t start the championship game eight of nine from the floor like it did against Prescott, but it nonetheless shot the ball well enough to bolt to a 21-8 lead. After taking a quick 6-3 lead, the winners’ next five baskets were all three-pointers, two apiece by Kole Hinrichsen and Caden Freetly and another by Adam Weed.
Farmington (4-2) led 31-11 before the Knights closed the half on 12-4 run to pull within a dozen at intermission.
“We had a good first half except for the last five minutes.” Johnson said. “We sort of let them back in it at the end.”
Johnson credited a hustling defense for much of the first half success. Many of the Irondale possessions ended in turnovers or hurried shot attempts.
“We try to keep the ball out of the paint and force the other team to take shots they don’t want,” he said.
Irondale canned a three to start the second half to cut its deficit to nine but that would be as close as it would get. With nine minutes to play, the championship was secure with a 56-35 lead.
As was the case in the blowout win over Prescott, Johnson got to use his entire varsity roster in the closing minutes.
“Maybe the biggest thing to take away from the tournament is our younger players are starting to catch up with the speed of the varsity game,” Johnson said. “That’s happening especially at the defensive end where hustle and athleticism help. Offensively, you just have to grow into it.”
Three Tigers finished scoring in double figures. Freetly led the way with 18 points. Weed had a breakout game with 15, including a trio of three-pointers, and Hinrichsen chimed in with 14. Farmington drained 10 three-point shots and a dozen players got into the scoring column.
Miles Mendes and Sam Wilson who combined for 43 points against Prescott were held to eight and seven points respectively.
“Sam was a little under the weather and he had their best defender on him,” Johnson said. “The big thing is that we had other guys step up and score for us. That’s what we have been looking for.”
Next Tuesday night the Tigers host section rival New Prague and Thursday they return to South Suburban Conference play with a road game at Eastview.