Tigers Knock off Knights in Tourney Opener
by Pat Rupp
Farmington shook off a little first-half holiday rust to pull away in the second stanza in an 81-61 win over Irondale Thursday night in the opening round of the four-team Hastings Holiday Classic played in Hastings.
The victory powered the Tigers into a match-up with Prescott, Wisconsin in the title game on Friday. Prescott earned its trip to the championship game with a 77-67 win over host Hastings.
In the early going few in the audience would have expected either team to finish the night with 80-plus points. Neither team could find the basket and turnovers were the order of the day over most of the first 18 minutes.
“We came out with no energy at all,” Tiger coach Tharen Johnson said. “For most of the first half, we were going half speed and not playing with any emotion. Toward the end of the half we finally started to come out of it.”
The teams see-sawed through much of the first half with Farmington (5-2) erasing a 23-19 deficit with a closing 16-7 spurt to take a 35-30 lead to intermission.
Adam Weed knocked down a trio three-pointers for nine first half points, a total matched by Miles Mendes who added his points in the paint. Zach Hedquist added six first half markers.
The late first half run carried over to the second half as the winners opened with a 22-12 blitz to all but put the contest out of reach. Mendes had six points in the run, including a pair of dunks, one in the open court and another on a perfectly executed alley-oop pass from Jacob Bormann.
“Miles really played well tonight,” Johnson said. “He is just beginning to realize what kind of talent and potential he has.”
The Tigers forged their biggest lead of the night at 77-53 and had the luxury of playing reserves down the stretch.
“The key to our turnaround in the second half was increasing our defensive pressure,” Johnson said. “That led to some turnovers and gave us some energy.”
All in all, 11 different players got into the scoring act with Mendes leading the point parade with 18. Weed and sophomore Gabe Bassett joined him in double figures with 13 apiece.
Bassett, who had scored just three points in limited playing time this season, caught Johnson’s attention with his play off the bench.
“Gabe can shoot the basketball,” he said. “He’s a great weapon to have against a zone.”
Hedquist finished with nine points for Farmington. Brock Mogensen and Caden Freetly each chipped in with seven and Jameson Shrum scored five.
Friday night’s title game with Prescott tips off at 7:00. Hastings and Irondale square off in the third place game at 5:00.