Tigers Looking for Scorers in 2017-18
by Pat Rupp
Farmington finished 8-19 overall and 3-15 in the rugged South Suburban Conference in Tharen Johnson’s first season at the helm of the Tiger hoops program last season. Johnson and his staff are looking to improve on that mark in 2017-18 but will need to overcome a couple of obstacles in order to achieve that goal.
Gone from last year are all-conference forward Sam Wilson and his 20 points a game and classmate Cole Hinrichsen who averaged almost nine a night while providing solid floor leadership.
“Those two combined for almost half of our points last year,” Johnson said, “so early on scoring might be a concern for us.”
Another concern will be the team’s lack of height. “We don’t have a lot of size,” Johnson said. “We’ll have to compensate for that with our physical strength.”
But Johnson, in his 14th year in the Tiger boys’ program, is the first to point out that the Farmington cupboard is far from empty. All-South Suburban Conference honorable mention senior forward Caden Freetly (8 points, 7 rebounds per game) returns as do fellow seniors Brock Mogensen (3.7 points); Jarrett Hunt (2.6 points) and Zach Hedquist (1.3 points).
Returning juniors who saw varsity action last winter include Adam Weed (6.2 points); Miles Mendes (5.4 points, 4.3 rebounds); Jamar Shrum (2.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists) and Brady Bean (2.0 points).
Senior forward Collin Hansen and junior guard Jacob Borman also figure to compete for varsity floor time this winter.
A couple of areas where Johnson feels his team will make major strides over last season are defense and rebounding.
“Our overall strength and conditioning should be strong points for us,” he said. “Our team has really bought into the weight room. Strength and conditioning coaches Scott Meier and Shane Wyandt have done a great job getting our guys bigger, faster and stronger.”
According to Johnson, a less tangible but essential attribute of this year’s Tiger team is a dedication to get better.
“Almost all of the guys bought into working out over the summer,” Johnson said. “My coaching staff did an excellent job running them through individual drills to improve their skills.”
Johnson wasn’t ready to put a number on how many wins it might to take to make a successful season but rather explained his expectations in terms of solid night-in and night-out play.
“We have several guys back from last year but many of them were playing as sophomores and will still need to mature at the varsity level,” he said. “Last year we had some moments like beating Prescott, a Wisconsin state tournament team, by 30 points and pushing Minnesota state champion Apple Valley to the final second of overtime.
“But we also had several blowout losses and a 10-game losing streak. The goal this year is to bring the same level of play to every game. That will be needed to compete in the conference and advance in the section.”
Johnson will also have an eye on the future this season. This year’s sophomores were very competitive in the South Suburban in 2016-17 and the incoming freshmen finish fourth in the eighth grade travel team state tournament last winter.
The South Suburban Conference, winners of four of the last five Class 4A state titles, should once again be one of the strongest leagues in the state. Apple Valley is the odds-on favorite to take league honors again with six-time champion Lakeville North the likely choice in the Section 1AAAA race.
Johnson will have a veteran coaching staff with which to work. Tiger grad Jacob Sand will serve as varsity assistant with Daniel Beyer handling the junior varsity team. AJ Dubek returns for his second season with the sophomores while Adam Huppert and Roland Bradley direct the ninth grade A and B teams respectively.
The Tigers open their regular season Friday, Dec. 1, with a non-conference home contest against Section 1AAAA rival Rochester Century.