11 December 2013

Boys B-Ball: No. 4 North escapes Tigers in OT

Zach Speikers found his way through the North defense for 31 points (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Farmington (3-1) led fourth-ranked Lakeville North and all-state guard JP Macura for all but a few moments of regulation Tuesday night but when all was said and done the Panthers left Tiger Gym with a 104-99 overtime victory.

The Tigers went on top 15-13 early in the first half on Johnny Dittman's three-pointer and hit the break with a 49-44 lead. The margin swelled to 64-52 early in the second period and the Panthers didn't pull even until Macura drained a pair of free throws with 19 seconds to play in regulation.

Zach Speikers' three-point try at the end of regulation was off the mark and forced the extra session.

Farmington coach Shane Wyandt liked a lot of what he saw from his team in the entertaining contest played in front of a boisterous crowd but added it also left him with an empty feeling.

"At another time in the program's development we might be satisfied with this," he said, "but this game was ours to win and we let is slip away.

"I feel this team has the ability to be something special and close out these types of games. We did some good things but I'm not thrilled with how things ended."

Nick Varner scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half (photo by Jim Lindquist)
After the Tigers built their 12-point lead, Macura and company kept slowly biting into the lead. Four different players--Mac Bassett, Tyler VanWinkle, Wyatt Ferm and Dallas Guyout--drew the assignment of trying to slow down Macura, a NCAA Division I recruit headed to Xavier, and all ended up out on the bench with five fouls.

Starting center Eli Rockett also spent most of the night on the sidelines with foul trouble, picking up his fifth with 4:39 to go in regulation.

Macura finished the night with an astonishing 55 points, including a 32-point performance over the second half and overtime. He also got the benefit of the doubt on most foul calls and finished 18 of 20 from the foul line.

"He obviously is a great player," Wyandt said, "but even with all of the points he scored, if we don't make some critical mistakes in the final minutes we still win the ball game."

Speikers, who netted a career-high 31 points, 19 in the first half and a dozen more in the second, gave the Tigers a 96-95 lead in overtime and Nick Varner's bucket from the paint a minute later put the home team its last lead at 98-97 with 1:15 to play.

Mac Bassett got up close and personal with JP Macura (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Varner had only four points in the first half but played perhaps the best 18 minutes of his career in the second, scoring 21points and leading the rebounding effort.

Dittman scored 14 points and Bassett added 11 to join Speikers and Varner in double digits. Speikers also contributed a team-high eight assists; Dittman had five.

"We have been really been balanced offensively so far," Wyandt said. "We have played hard and we have played together. We'll learn from tonight and move forward."

Wyandt said moving on will be very important as Tuesday's game was just one of three on the docket this week.

"We have Century coming in Thursday and then Owatonna here on Saturday," He said. "Both of those are section games so they're very important for down the road."