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Boys Basketball: Winona stuns top-seeded Tigers

Winona was a completely different team with 6-foot-10 Alec Brown in the mix.

Without Brown Jan. 17, the Winhawks lost 63-36 loss at home to Farmington, dropping their record to 3-7. With the big man in the middle, they've reeled off 10 straight victories, the latest a 53-51 overtime upset of the top-seeded Tigers in Saturday's Section 1AAAA semifinals at Rochester Civic Center.

Brown scored 16 of his 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the first half as Winona (16-10) took a 30-27 advantage, then scored the first four points of overtime to give the Winhawks their final lead.

"Early in the game we were allowing some dribble penetration and our help rotations were leaving (Brown) open," said Farmington coach Shane Wyandt, whose Missota Conference championship team finished with a record of 20-8. "We corrected that as the game went on but he was still able to get some putbacks and hit some mid-range jumpers."

The Tigers, who had won 13 of their previous 14 games, missed plenty of shots of their own. They shot 39 percent from the field and 54 percent from the free throw line, where they were 13 of 24. Eight of those 11 misses came in the closing minutes and overtime as the Tigers were trying to put the game away.

Despite those misses, Farmington still led 48-45 with a minute to go. Winona's Chad Peterson cut it to a one-point game by making two free throws, then after Josh Zitzmann missed a pair of charity tosses, drew another foul and made the game-tying shot with 5.6 seconds left.

In the overtime, Winona missed four straight free throws that kept them from extending their four-point lead. Instead, Farmington senior Brent Beenken hit a jumper to make it a two-point game and two more missed Winhawk free throws gave the Tigers a chance to win it with 16 seconds left. A series of passes freed up senior Jake Lippert in the corner, but his three-pointer rimmed out with no time remaining.

"I felt terrible for our kids because they put themselves in position to win but we just couldn't finish it," Wyandt said. "These guys have a lot to be proud of and it's too bad it had to end that way."

The loss ended the careers of four seniors -- 1,000-point scorers Lippert and Josh Zitzmann, as well as Beenken and post player David Steege. Lippert finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, Zitzmann had four points and four rebounds, Beenken scored 11 points and handed out three assists and Steege hauled in five rebounds and rejected six shots. The group helped the program go from 10 wins to 12, 13 and now 20 in their four years of high school.

"We talked after the game about our senior and junior classes and all of the work they have put in over the years. These two groups jumped in with our off-season programming early and played a lot of basketball together growing up. That's tough to see end," Wyandt said. "Josh and Jake have been up with the varsity since they were in ninth grade and are both 1,000-point scorers, which doesn't happen very often. Brent and David became starters last season and immediately made a positive impact."

Beenken and Kyle Winkelman (10 points) helped the Tigers stay in the game by shooting 6 of 18 collectively from beyond the three-point arc. Winona missed its only three-point attempt, but offset that by shooting 46 percent and outscoring the Tigers in the paint, 34-16.

Winona advances to take on third-seeded Owatonna in an all-Big Nine Section 1AAAA final Friday night in Rochester.

Farmington 66, Century 54

The Tigers advanced with a 66-54 victory over eighth-seeded Rochester Century last Wednesday night in front of a big crowd at Tiger Gym.

Lippert turned in another double-double, scoring 19 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Beenken was right behind with 18 points and Zitzmann scored 14 while handing out six assists. Steege chipped in eight points, eight boards and five blocks.

The Tigers held a 33-19 edge on the glass and forced 21 turnovers, including 10 steals, that led to plenty of easy shots and a 46-percent shooting night from the floor. They also swished 8 of 17 shots from downtown.