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Boys' basketball: Tigers win fast-paced season opener over Rochester Century

Junior Miles Mendes leaps high in the air as he attempts the floater. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Senior Caden Freetly gets fouled from behind in the first half during the Tigers' win over Rochester Century. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The Farmington boys basketball team's season and home opener against the Rochester Century Panthers last Friday, Dec. 1, was almost perfect. It was exciting, fast-paced, back-and-forth with plenty of drama. But being the first game of the season for both teams, it wasn't the cleanest game. All that matters, though, is the Tigers won 94-80 to start their season off on the right foot and establish that they will have zero problems scoring despite the loss of 20-plus points per game scorer Sam Wilson.

What was a young team last season that had only two seniors graduate is now an experienced and tested squad featuring five seniors and several seasoned juniors. While last year Wilson was the only Tiger to average double-digit scoring, Farmington had four players score more than 10 points in the win over Rochester Century.

From the tip-off which Farmington won and ran a play for a layup to take a 2-0 lead, the Tigers led the entire way. They got off to a fast start, quickly getting out to a 9-0 lead just two minutes into the game and led 27-14 midway through the first half. The slow start for Rochester Century proved costly as they battled the Tigers tough the rest of the game. Farmington was led by senior forward Caden Freetly, who had 10 first half points but was forced to sit for extended periods due to foul trouble.Foul trouble was the major limiting factor for both teams as each had trouble defending the up-and-down game without fouling. Both teams attempted more than 20 free throws, while Century made 25 of them.

After taking a 45-37 lead at half, the Tigers started the second half out just as hot as the first and quickly extended their lead to 59-41 with just over 13 minutes left in the game. However, the Panthers would not go down quietly as Mark Leonard and Macauley Horvath combined for 23 points in the second half and 31 in the game to keep Rochester Century just within striking distance. Farmington led by just seven with just under six minutes left, but the Tigers were able to go on a run of their own and led 86-74 with 3:32 left. They never looked back and won 94-80, a win

Head coach Tharen Johnson said the game was not your typical season-opener.

"Usually in the early games its defense that's a little ahead of the offense," he said. "But man, both teams were executing pretty good. I thought we moved the ball really well, we were getting open shots and guys were hitting them. We have to work on our defense a little bit with giving up 80, but I liked where we are at offensively."

Johnson said he was not overly worried about the fouls his team wracked up, saying that games are called closer early in the season and attributing them to his team's defensive troubles in general.

Freetly and senior post player Brock Mogensen led the Tigers with 18 points each. While Freetly's foul trouble limited him in the second half, Mogensen made several huge plays down the stretch as Farmington fought off the Panthers and he had 10 of his points in the second half.

Junior guard James Shrum added 17 points on an efficient 8-of-13 from the field. Junior Miles Mendes, a bouncy forward/wing who saw significant time last season, struggled shooting early on but made several big plays at the end of the game and finished with 11 points.

Also scoring for the Tigers were senior Zach Hedquist (6), junior Adam Weed (7), junior Jacob Bormann (9), senior Jarrett Hunt (6) and junior Brady Bean (2).

Farmington traveled to Rochester Mayo on Tuesday, Dec. 5, and then hosts Minnetonka on Thursday, Dec. 7, and St. Anthony on Saturday, Dec. 9.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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