Tigers Pull Away from Eagan in Second Half
by Pat Rupp
Four players scored in double figures and the Tigers dominated the boards in a 68-49 South Suburban Conference win over Eagan Tuesday night at Tiger Gym.
The conference win was the first in three tries for Farmington and raised its season mark above .500 at 5-4.
“I thought we put together two relatively even halves” Tiger coach Tharen Johnson said. “We pulled away late when they pressed us and had to foul.”
Neither team shot the ball well in the first half and the Wildcats actually lead 15-10 with 7:30 remaining before Kole Hinrichsen and Miles Mendes sparked a 13-3 closing run to give the home team a 23-18 halftime lead.
“We let them get a few transition three’s early because we weren’t sprinting back and getting matched up as well as we could have,” Johnson said. “After that we controlled the game.”
Eagan pulled to within a point at 25-24 early in the second half before two free throws by Caden Freetly, a pair of three-pointers by Hinrichsen and a put-back by Mendes ignited a 10-2 run that stretched the lead to nine.
The lead stayed in that range until midway through the half when Adam Weed nailed back-to-back three’s with 8:00 remaining to break the Wildcats’ back.
Balanced scoring keyed the win with Hinrichsen finishing with a team-high 18 points on eight-for 14 shooting. The senior guard also had seven rebounds and three assists.
“Kole hit some big three’s and we also posted him up on some of their smaller guards where he did some damage inside,” Johnson said.
Sam Wilson had an off night shooting (5 for 17) but still managed to score 16 points and pull down eight rebounds. Mendes and Weed each added 10 and Freetly scored eight.
“I’ll take four guys in double figures any game,” Johnson said.
Freetly and Mendes led a strong effort on the glass with 13 and nine rebounds respectively. As a team the Tigers outrebounded their guests by a hefty 53-37 margin.
“That was good to see,” Johnson said of the rebound numbers, “and we also cut down the turnovers that plagued us against New Prague and Eastview.”
Farmington finished with 11 turnovers in Tuesday’s win. They committed 39 over the previous two games.
Defense also played a big role in the victory. The hustling Tigers limited the Wildcats to just 27.1 shooting from the field, including 10 of 38 from three-point range.
Three games into the conference season, Johnson said his team is learning it can be successful against that level of competition.
“I think we can compete with most of the teams in the conference,” he said. “Apple Valley and Lakeville North are still the teams to beat at the top.”
Farmington will try to make it two in a row on Friday when it travels to Burnsville to take on the Blaze, a team that has lost three league games by a combined 10 points.
“We will really need to prepare the rest of this week for another quality team,” Johnson said.