Shorthanded Tigers Fall at Apple Valley | by Pat Rupp

Shorthanded Tigers Fall at Apple Valley

by Pat Rupp

Last month state-rated Apple Valley paid a visit to Tiger Gym and the Tigers put together arguably their best effort of the 2016-17 season. They led most of the contest only to lose on a buzzer-beating in overtime.

Tuesday night’s rematch on the Eagles’ home court was another story altogether as the shorthanded Tigers fell in a big way 80-32.

The final score probably should have an * beside it as the visitors entered the contest with three starters on the unable to performance list. Leading scorer Sam Wilson was still nursing an ankle injury suffered in last Friday’s loss at Lakeville North. Caden Freetly and Miles Mendes missed the contest due to illness.

“Having three starters out is difficult, especially being a younger team,” Farmington coach Tharen Johnson said. “We are throwing more sophomores and juniors out on the court who have no varsity experience and are not prepared for the speed of the game.

“It makes it harder defensively as well. Sam, Caden, and Miles are three of our better defenders and they are statistically our top three rebounders. The last two games against Apple Valley and Lakeville North teams were able to  get inside too easily and then often got second and third shots because we were not able to finish with a rebound.”

Valley broke to a big early lead and by halftime was sitting sitting on a 40-13 cushion. The margin was a little less over the final 18 minutes with the winners substituting liberally. All in all, 12 Valley players scored in the contest.

“If there is a silver lining with our injury and illness problems it is that some younger players are getting valuable varsity experience against some of top teams in the state,” Johnson said.
“It doesn’t make the scoreboard look good this season but the hope is that going into next season these younger players will be more prepared and confident in varsity games.”

The stat sheet vividly explained the one-sided result of the game. Farmington made just 28.2 percent of its shots while the Eagles shot at a 57.6 clip.

Valley also held a big edge in the rebounding department (37-24) and even more significantly managed to turn the Tigers’ season-high turnover total (23) into 35 points.

Junior Drew Thatinen, playing extended varsity minutes for the first time this season, led Farmington scorers with nine points, including a pair of three-pointers. Brock Mogensen added seven and Jacob Bormann five.

Alijah Moe was the top Tiger rebounder with five. Jamer Shrum and Jarrett Hunt each had two assists.

“I thought Jacob {Bormann) was one younger player who stepped up and played confidently in his first significant playing time of the year,” Johnson said. “He took care of the ball and contributed with some nice plays…Drew (Tahtinen), another junior varsity player who has practiced very hard for us all year, came in and hit some nice outside shots.”

Johnson is hoping to have Freetly and Mendes back in the fold Friday for the Tigers’ road game at Rosemount, Wilson could be back next week for the final two games of the regular season.

“We are just trying to get healthy down the stretch,” Johnson said “It’s hard to get in any type of rhythm with new guys having to play each game and also playing with JV guys who don’t have a lot of varsity experience.

“It looks like we are going to end up playing Rochester John Marshall in the first round of sections so we are starting to prepare for what they are going to throw at us both offensively and defensively.”

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