Lakers Down Tigers 60-53 in Conference Opener
by Pat Rupp
Tuesday night’s South Suburban Conference opener at Prior Lake took some dizzying turns but when the dust finally settled Farmington (4-2) found itself on the short end of a 60-53 score.
“We started out poorly,” Farmington coach Tharen Johnson said. “We weren’t being tough enough with the ball and our shot selection was bad as we were taking shots too quickly and out of rhythm.”
After the teams traded the first two baskets, the Lakers proceeded to score 15 unanswered points to assume control. The visitors never quit, however, roaring back to outscore Prior Lake 23-8 the rest of the half to take a 25-23 lead to intermission.
“After their big run our guys started battling better inside,” Johnson said. “We started moving the ball better against their zone and went on a run of our own.”
The second half was a back-and-forth affair with the Lakers assuming an early lead only to see the Tigers counter. The spread was never more than four points until the final minute of regulation.
“They started pressuring us more in the second half,” Johnson said. “We handled it well outside of one run where we turned the ball over and it led to some easy baskets.”
Adam Weed kept Farmington in the hunt in the final half, scoring all 14 of his team-high points after the break.
“Adam hit some clutch shots down the stretch to keep us in it,” Johnson said,” But in the end our shot selection wasn’t very good as we settled for quick contested three’s instead of attacking the basket.”
Another factor in the loss was the decided size advantage owned by the Lakers. Prior Lake’s starting post tandem of 6-10 Dawson Garcia (25 points) and 6-10 Robert Jones (16 points) scored two-third of their points and was responsible for much of their team’s 44-28 rebounding advantage that helped lead to 36 points in the paint.
“They did present some match-up trouble for us,” Johnson said, “but I thought we battled them pretty well. Our guys did a good job of holding their ground inside and contesting most of their shots.”
Another glaring stat that impacted the outcome of the game was the Tigers’ inability to knockdown shots from behind the arc. They took 29 three-pointers, but connected on only six for a frigid 20.7 percent.
Prior Lake also went to the free throw line 20 times, converting 13, while Farmington had just four trips to the stripe the entire game.
Caden Freetly joined Weed in double figures with 11 points. Miles Mendes added eight and Jameson Shrum chipped in with six points and a like number of assists. Brock Mogensen pulled down a team-high seven rebounds; Freetly had six.
“I am proud of the way our team fought back,” Johnson said, “but it’s hard to win on the road in the South Suburban when you spot the other team a 15-point lead. We have to come out ready to execute from the start and we didn’t do that.”
The Tigers are off now until after Christmas when they square off against Irondale, Thursday, Dec. 28, in the opening round of the Hastings Holiday Tournament. Tip-off is slated for 5:00 in Hastings.