Big First Half Carries Tigers to Hastings Title
by Pat Rupp
Last year Farmington beat Prescott (WI) in the opening round and Irondale in the championship game of the four-team Hastings Holiday Classic. This year the Tigers beat the same two teams in reverse order to successfully defend their championship.
The Tigers followed up a 20-point win over Irondale on Thursday with an impressive 73-57 victory over the previously unbeaten Cardinals Friday night to claim the 2017 crown.
A big first half proved the difference in the contest as Farmington raced to an early 17-7 lead and then closed the half on 20-8 run that spelled a lopsided 37-15 advantage at intermission.Prescott managed but five field goals in the opening half against Farmington’s stingy 1-3-1 zone defense.
“I watched Prescott against Hastings and Peter Brookshaw, their point guard, was excellent,” Farmington coach Tharen Johnson said. “He’s very good at scoring one-on-one in isolation. We went 1-3-1 zone to take away his ability to drive and to make him into a shooter.”
While Prescott was shooting 20 percent from the field over the first 18 minutes, the Tigers alternated between dominating the paint and cashing in on three-pointers.
“They have a smaller lineup and our length and athleticism in the zone gave them problems,” Johnson said. We used our height advantage on offense to post up and get easy looks inside and then when they started helping in the post we did a nice job of finding the open shooter and knocking down three’s.”
Caden Freetly scored 10 of his team’s first 12 points to get the party started and then the perimeter players started dialing in from long range. The Tigers made seven of 17 tries from behind the arc in the opening half with five different players draining treys.
The second half was much more evenly played but the outcome was never in doubt as Johnson was able to substitute liberally. That showed up in the box score where eight different players got into the scoring act. Freetly and Zach Hedquist led the way with 14 points apiece with Jameson Shrum chiming in with a dozen. Miles Mendes added nine, Brock Mogensen eight and Adam Weed and Gabe Bassett six each.
Hedquist and Mendes led the way to a 38-32 advantage on the glass with eight and seven rebounds respectively. Freetly, Mendes and Weed each dished out a trio of assists.
Johnson said the tournament provided a good opportunity to for more of his players to see varsity court action.
“I think our balance is going to be big come conference play,” he said. “Our top three scorers against Prescott were all different than our three top scorers against Irondale.
“We just have to keep sharing the ball on offense and when guys get open looks we have to be able to convert.”
Farmington (6-2) begins to the 2018 portion of its schedule next Tuesday with a non-conference road game at New Prague (5-6). Thursday they return to South Suburban Conference action, hosting Lakeville South (4-4) at Tiger Gym.