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Boys basketball: Tigers split home games

The late-game heroics of Connor Duffy helped the Farmington boys basketball team avoid another heartbreaking loss last week.

The Tigers had let an 11-point lead slip away in the final five minutes of last Tuesday's home game against Red Wing after the Wingers used a free throw to go up by a point with 16 seconds to go. With the clock winding down, Duffy picked up a loose ball and tossed it in off the glass with two seconds left to give Farmington the lead. Red Wing tried to get its own shot at a game-winner, but Duffy intercepted a long pass to seal the win.

Farmington (5-15) led by double figures late in the second half, but committed several costly turnovers, missed free throws and allowed Red Wing to convert two straight three-point plays that cut the margin to a single point with under three minutes left.

"To finish one of those was good," said Farmington coach Shane Wyandt, whose team has lost its share of close games this season. "I don't think any of the guys were too excited considering we should have had the game secured, but made too many mistakes down the stretch."

Junior Alex Michels led the Tigers with 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Duffy added 16 points and Justin Lavey dropped in 10. Mike Jolliff and Kyle Winkelman each contributed nine points.

One three-minute stretch of bad offense spoiled an otherwise strong Farmington effort Friday night against Shakopee.

Shakopee 63,

Farmington 55

The Tigers played the Sabers to a 32-32 draw at the break, then led throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half before four straight turnovers allowed the visiting Sabers to take control.

"We played a real solid first half, similar to the second half at their place (when the Tigers outscored the Sabers 25-21 in an eventual 52-51 loss)," Wyandt said. "We were trading leads and playing pretty strong defense, then the offense just couldn't get it going for stretches. We started turning the ball over and they capitalized on all of those. Their pressure wasn't anything different than what we've seen, but we were just making dumb passes and doing things we shouldn't have been doing."

The Tigers weathered the stretch of poor play and still trailed by just three points before the Sabers beat the full-court press for three buckets in the final minute.

Lavey led the Tigers with 16 points. Michels and Winkelman each tacked on 13 and Duffy scored seven points.

With six games remaining in the regular season, Wyandt is still hopeful his team can build some confidence and momentum in time to be a factor in the section tournament. That hope is boosted by the fact that -- after 15-5 Owatonna -- the section is fairly balanced.

Rochester Century is in line for the No. 2 seed, but has a record of just 10-7 after losing three straight Big Nine games, and Hastings (8-11) and Rochester Mayo (6-12) are competing for No. 3 and 4 spots ahead of the Tigers.

"I think we can be very competitive," Wyandt said. "Obviously some teams we match up with better than others, but after Owatonna I think with the next six teams anybody can beat anybody else."