Still Searching for First Conference Win
by Pat Rupp
Against non-conference competition this season the Tigers have been dominant, winning seven of eight outing and putting up some good numbers in the process.
The same can’t be said for early South Suburban Conference play, however, as Farmington (7-4) has failed to win a league game in three tries. The latest loss came in the firm on an 82-64 road defeat at Shakopee Tuesday night.
“The South Suburban is tough,” Farmington coach Tharen Johnson said. “We beat a quality Minnetonka team early but some of our other non-conference wins have been against teams that are down this year.
“We are going to have to play at a higher level to beat the top teams in the conference and so far we have not played at that level for a full game.”
Tuesday night’s loss in Shakopee was a good example of what Johnson was describing as the Tigers dug a big first half hole that they never could escape.
The teams matched baskets in the early going with the Tigers trailing by just two points at 13-11 when the Sabers managed to find the range from behind the three-point arc. A 21-8 Shakopee run that featured five long-range bombs proved to be pivotal.
“We came out it a zone similar to what we did against Prescott in the Hastings tournament,” Johnson said. “I thought our length could bother their smaller guys but Shakopee ended up shooting us out of the zone.
“In retrospect, it was not the right game plan. We ended up playing man-to-man defense the rest of the game, but they still hurt us with their shooting after we made the change. We didn’t contest their outside players well enough.”
Shakopee led 39-26 at the break with Caden Freetly carrying most of the scoring load for Farmington. Freetly netted 13 of team-high 16 points in the first 18 minutes. The Sabers drained seven three-pointer in the opening period.
The contest was much closer in the second half with the Sabers outscoring their guests 43-38 after intermission, but the first half deficit was too much to overcome.
Zach Hedquist had a big second half for Farmington, joining Freetly in double figures with 14 points and drawing some words of praise from his coach.
“I really like the way that Zach took the ball to the basket,” Johnson said. “He provided some good toughness…Miles Mendes also took the ball strong to the basket and Caden had some nice finishes as well.”
Adam Weed tallied nine points and Mendes and Jacob Bormann each chimed in with eight for the Tigers..
“Offensively, I liked the shots we got,” Johnson said. “Our guys were getting them in the lane as well as open three-point looks. We just didn’t finish as well as Shakopee did.”
Farmington returns to the friendly confines of Tiger Gym Friday night for a date with South Suburban rival Eastview. Next Tuesday they head to Eagan to take on the Wildcats.